Staff Meeting in the Time of COVID-19

Since the middle of March, Picton Castle shore crew have all been working from home.  From time to time we’ve gone into the office to pick up mail, sign cheques, or do other things that can only be done in person.  We’re in constant communication by email, with frequent texts and phone calls too.  But we haven’t all seen each other since mid March which, honestly, has been a bit weird and difficult.  I like my colleagues and I like the cross-fertilization of ideas that happens naturally when we work together in our open concept office.  We end up talking through things more often when we only have to turn around in our office chairs, rather than picking up the phone.

However, working remotely from one another isn’t all that new for us.  When Picton Castle is at sea, our main method of communication between ship and shore office is email.  Occasional phone calls too, when the ship is in port, but most of the time we’re communicating in writing.  In the specific case of Picton Castle, Captain Moreland is not only the Master of the ship most of the time, he’s also the CEO of the company, which makes this communication even more frequent as we’re discussing more topics.

We’ve learned from periods where our team is working physically apart from one another that when we have the chance to meet in person, we should take it.  Or, in the case of last Friday, make it.  We called a shore crew staff meeting for Friday afternoon, saying we would meet outdoors either on the Picton Castle wharf or in the boatyard at the Dory Shop.  Our office has a fantastic meeting area that includes a coffee table and four comfy green armchairs, but they’re not far enough apart in this time of physical distancing.  By meeting outdoors, and just the four of us, we could do it in a way that met all the requirements (which in Nova Scotia means a group of five people or less, and staying at least six feet away from each other).

When Captain Moreland, Bronwen, Danielle and I met up, the temperature was fairly mild and we were dressed for the outdoors, however the wind was howling and there is no way we could have heard each other while sitting outside.  So we moved into Plant #2 at the Dory Shop, perched on workbenches amidst the wood shavings from the big electric planer, all with appropriate distance between us.

We spent a couple of hours together, talking about all of the projects we have on the go at the moment.  Despite the pandemic, or perhaps because of it, there is a lot going on.  We talked a lot about Picton Castle’s upcoming Voyage to the South Pacific, and how much we all want the ship to make this voyage as soon as we practically can, and what needs to be shuffled around to do that.  We have many other irons in the fire, so to speak, and talked about each of them as well: Bosun School, The Chandlery retail store, our warehouse and wharf, Class Afloat’s marine crew and port operations, the Dory Shop and its various projects, and the ship herself.  Our conversation was wide-ranging.  We also laughed a bit, and caught up with one another.  I left feeling like we’re more on the same page now.  As they say, shared misery is divided and shared joy is multiplied.