Which Way Next? Remote Working

Statement 5: Remote working in the breakbulk and project cargo industry is not maintainable long term.

2020 has been a watershed year for the industry. The Breakbulk Editorial Advisory Board share their thoughts on a range of topics and where we go from here as the new year dawns.

Cover Story Introduction and Meet our Editorial Advisory Board Participants



Roger Strevens: “While true, it is not a point that applies to the breakbulk and project segment only; the whole industry is in the same boat, so to speak. While (video) calls are an effective means for conveying information and even resolving some problems, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction when it comes to building trust and new relationships. At the same time, it seems likely that increased remote working and reduced travel will prove to be enduring effects in the post Covid-19 era.”

Frans Waals: “The breakbulk and project cargo industry is not considered very suitable for remote working.”

Samuel Holmes: “I agreed that it is not maintainable in the long term because companies will fall back to the old ways of doing business post-Covid-19. Covid-19 has proven remote work in the project cargo industry is possible. A change in mindset will be necessary to convince industry leaders that individuals can work from anywhere, as long as they have access to internet and their company’s shared folder. I think it is also time to reevaluate office space utilization – that is reducing the amount of real estate office buildings, and allowing employees to visit physical office space every other week. This will reduce overall cost on real estate and provide more flexibility for employees.”

Ulrich Ulrichs: “It is still a ‘small’ and people’s business segment and personal contacts and relationships will still be very important in the future.”


John Amos: “A degree of remote working has always been a part of the project cargo industry. It is always changing, as projects come and go and employees often work alone and remotely. It is necessary to work in the office at least part of the time to be knowledgeable of company developments, information and activities.”


Dennis Devlin: “The world has learned that working remotely is actually very effective. In the long term, when the pandemic subsides or an effective vaccine is developed, it’s highly likely that many businesses, including the project cargo industry, will continue to work remotely to a certain extent to gain some of the benefits everyone has seen: less time commuting; more time working. People will meet, and will go to offices, but less frequently than before.”

Murray Cooper: “Remote working and getting to the site of the logistics action is essential to the success of all breakbulk shipments.”

Noelle Burke: “With modern video technology and software applications in essence meetings are still ‘face to face.’ What I think will happen is there will be more pressure for companies to provide ‘world-class execution’ versus sustaining business relationships. I also think we’ll see companies weaned out that haven’t invested in technology and the discipline of utilizing those technologies to their fullest capacity.”

Margaret Vaughan: “I agree that for some functions remote working is unfeasible. However, mankind has a strange way of developing new and creative ways of making things work.”

Dennis Mottola: “Although not ideal in some cases, I believe it is maintainable long term for those jobs that can be performed remotely. The industry has adapted well to working remotely thus far through the pandemic. I believe this demonstrated adaptability has businesses already considering trade-offs for how they will work in the future from the office vs remotely.”

Grant Wattman: “While I do not see 100 percent of staff working remotely, this experiment has proven there are capabilities and skill sets that can be as effective remote. I see a hybrid model where remote engagement becomes a matter of routine.”

Dharmendra Gangrade: “We need to be realistic that other than physical activities/movements all can be performed remotely with no negative impact. We, as an EPC, manage many of our projects at multiple geographies simultaneously without any hitch. Key to success is the right, experienced and trustworthy service provider who acts as your extended arm to ensure operations are successful.”

Jake Swanson: “I have always felt that with a laptop and cellphone I could be dangerous. The challenge will be training the next generation, as I feel it is important to work in close contact for developing experience. Also, business development will need to adapt if client visits and personal contact will be limited. However, overall, I believe that project teams can still collaborate and function effectively while working remotely.”

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