Collaboration at the workplace or Workspace today is one of the most vital aspects as it is a parameter that defines the level of efficiency. A very old saying says – two heads are better than one and as it is with old sayings – they are very true.

At the same time interpretation of any line of wisdom is very important. Here, in this case, collaboration is often misinterpreted as teamwork but both are very different. Teamwork is when a group of individuals works towards a common goal but collaboration is when the output is enhanced as a result of all the different sets of skills and mindsets put together. Collaboration is a much broader aspect of not just achieving success but enhancing it.

Workplace collaboration in the shipping industry is a little too important and sensitive as for the total sail duration your colleagues are your professional, emotional, and personal mates. Better the collaboration better will be the sail and the sailor.

 In conversation with Dave Bull, Sr. Technology Consultant at VIKAND– analyzing Workplace Collaboration.

(i)         How does a solution like FrontM’s transform workplace collaboration at sea?

The general goal of workplace collaboration is to maximize the chances of success by administering an open, communicative, and collaborative experience among all members of an organization which, in turn, will maximize the success of a business.

 To enable individual team members to be their most productive within an organization, they must first have to be content with themselves. A significant portion includes basic physical and mental wellness. This can be a challenge on land and obviously, it can further deteriorate at sea with the added challenges of remoteness, a lack of direct family contact, possibly no access to professional counselors, and a lack of privacy. This could then compound what would normally be considered a minor issue into a much more complex situation.

 FrontM and Vikand have partnered to deliver a solution and service called VIKAND Direct. With FrontM’s groundbreaking application solutions coupled with VIKAND’s industry-leading medical professionals, we can provide a service that can be easily downloaded to a personal device. It provides a medical professional or counsellor ‘in your pocket’ which is staffed 24x7x365 days a year and will grow to know the individual just like your normal doctor does onshore. For both FrontM and VIKAND this is not just a service but a true passion that has been championed by the collaboration of both Peter Hult and Kiran Venkatesh. (CEOs of VIKAND and FrontM)

The service can be as basic as a ‘hi how are you feeling’ to assisting with a full physical and/or mental wellness program customized to the individual crew member’s needs.

 The overall goal will be to leverage technology to provide medical support at the earliest possible opportunity to ensure any medical or wellness improvements are recognised and addressed, thus preventing any further complications.

 When an individual’s personal wellness is on track then the focus can be around goals, team cohesion, minimal downtime which will recognise an organization’s full potential and productivity.

(ii)       Where do we see the communications onboard in the next 10 years?

The demands and expectations of the market/end-users always drive the technology providers to provide the highest quality solutions at competitive pricing. It also forces the providers to cooperate and provide ‘an end-to-end’ seamless solution. Satellite connectivity in the maritime market will not only have to look after the usual passengers and crew bandwidth demands that are both entertainment and welfare-related, but the increasing use of smart apps for just about everything in our lives –including VikandDirect will also be a baseline expectation.

Today seafarers almost have an acceptance of latency and ‘gaps’ in coverage. This will not be acceptable in the next few years and the minimal expectations for a service will be for it to be at par with what we would get on land/home offices. 

LOE (Low Earth Orbit) satellites have captured the imagination of the world with widely televised launches by companies like SpaceX – if we just look at their success and future proposals, they have filed documents with telecommunications authorities that show it has plans to launch 40,000 small satellites – that is triple the number put into orbit by humans in history thus far. SpaceX already has permission to place 12,000 satellites with a wireless internet service called Starlink. Other key satellite companies include Inmarsat (UK), Iridium Communications (US), Thurava (UAE), Hughes Network Services (US), and KVH Industries (US) who are also pushing forward in partnerships and technology advancements.

The traditional leaders in satellite companies have recognised these needs and are addressing them.  One of the major players is Inmarsat who has announced new services in new places for Global mobility customers in maritime, aviation, government, and enterprise. The communications network is called ORCHESTRA that will bring together existing GEO satellites with LOE and terrestrial 5G into one harmonious single solution.

To sum it up, forget the wait of 10 years –it is happening now! Workplace collaboration is lubricating the cogs of co-working while technology is facilitating the implementation of it all.