A room with a commanding view of the Baltic yes, really!

To a seafarer the concept of working-from-home is, quite obviously, totally foreign. Even office work, arriving and leaving at a set time, is hard for mariners to grasp. But, on land, we live in a time of radical change where even 9-5ers have had to rethink how they go about doing their duties.

Lene Bjerg Bové hasn’t had to alter her routines to fit in with the post Covid revolution – in fact she could probably do a masterclass on how to effectively work from home. Not that she has the time.

As one of the pilot dispatching team for the Danish Pilot Service, Lene’s role is quite hard to envisage for those who report to the bridge for a watch, or whose first anxiety of the day is the length of the coffee queue. Perhaps a flash image would be of wartime operations room with people shifting vessels and planes about on a huge, mapped table. But that conveys an out-of-date scenario. Lene’s world is on a computer and phone and it stretches from the Skagerrak between Denmark and Sweden southward to the vast Baltic. Here she constantly responds to requests for pilots to navigate the Tango Route, north and south.

(right: Computers, phones, notepads and cherry blossom, that's Lene's office)

Matching the pilots, their skills and qualifications, to the demands of the vessel’s draught and timescale eats up 48 hours on the trot. It is a demanding shift, but a pilot dispatcher needs to see the big picture for as long as possible in order to effectively do the job. The fewer handovers there are at the organisational end, the smoother the transits are at sea.

‘It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. You know the bigger picture and you have all the pieces at hand, you just have to work out where they go,’ says Lene who appreciates that unlike the jigsaw, her puzzle has numerous options and solutions.

So how do you do more hours in one shift than most work in a week? And how do you do it from home?

Actually working from home is a bonus to Lene. Her top tips to others would be to have a dedicated work zone yet move into other areas at set times to alter and refresh the working environment. It’s almost a contradiction, a set routine of constant change. This change does not involve falling into normal practices, like sleeping in her bedroom. A bed beside her desk allows her to catnap without ever leaving her post. The most ZZZZ’s she can expect is a couple of hours. Fresh air is as good as coffee and cola and the mobile comes into its own. She can’t imagine life confined to a landline.

‘In the afternoon I like to wander through the house talking to captains,’ she says. ‘I can imagine them up on the bridge whilst I have my own bridge, a sweeping bay of windows that looks over the garden. It’s a very different view, but it helps concentration.’

The role is not a totally responsive one, Lene looks beyond the bookings to see what is going on and what possibilities there are.

‘By being more proactive, it helps the colleague who follows me on duty. You can spot opportunities which allows them to quickly get into the way things are going.’

After the handover it would normally be six days before Lene is back on duty, but she has a second role with the DPS. She puts her administrative hat on to keep the office, the real office, running. The main office is in the Spodsbjerg headquarters. Here in an old railway station people still come and go. There are sleeping quarters for the pilots and boatmen as well as a conventional office and a kitchen/diner. As a business model they function well, but you can easily see the benefits of dispatching pilots from a remote and more focused location.

It’s the dream job where you don't have the time to dream.