After over 3 months of lockdown, it’s fair to say that we’ve all had plenty of time to think back on this unprecedented period of our lives. From working from home to getting used to new restrictions placed on us, there’s been a lot of change to deal with since the end of March.
With certain restrictions easing in the UK, we thought it would be a good time to ask some of our colleagues about how their roles have been affected during the pandemic.
How has the pandemic shaped your essential needs?
“Despite the fact that working from has some positives, such as a very short commute to the desk for instance,” says Samia Rezgui, Lead Structured Trader at SEFE Marketing & Trading, “the fact that we were not able to go outside was a bit difficult during the first weeks. But, very quickly, I felt generous support between family, friends, neighbours and colleagues which has been fantastic, particularly given that it has emerged as a result of lockdown.”
Indeed, the pandemic has seen many of the things we may be used to taken away from us, something that Zhenxing Teo, LNG Business Developer at SEFE Marketing & Trading Singapore, noted: “It makes me appreciate things that one would otherwise take for granted – such as seeing colleagues in the office, meeting friends, going for walk and enjoying the sun. These were simple things that I don’t think anyone anticipated not being able to do as much at the start of the year.”
Did it cause a paradigm change for you in any way?
“The main change has been the break I had from the daily routine I’d kept going for years,” says Samia. “Before lockdown, I’d been on an inflexible daily schedule between work, school runs and other activities. Everything was planned in advance and we always had something to look forward to. With lockdown we’ve started seeing plans cancelled, institutions closing, no more leisure activities, and no more travelling.”
However, the time inside has certainly afforded us plenty of time to re-shape our lives for the time being. On this, Samia says: “I started thinking about all the things I didn’t have time to do in my normal routine, working on a long to-do list I had in the back of my mind for years. So far, I’m very proud of all the goals achieved during lockdown, apart from the exercise goals where I’ve failed every single week! I want to give a big shout out to all the SEFE Marketing & Trading colleagues on Strava, who kept in touch and encouraged each other throughout all the training and runs we were going on.”
Of course, the line between work and personal time is inevitably blurred thanks to remote working. “After a little bit of getting used to,” says Zhenxing, “I found that working from home can be as productive (if not more so) than working in the office.
If anything, the pandemic has shown how important the little things are right now, especially the time spent with loved ones. On this, Zhenxing adds: “One thing I will really miss when we do return to working in our usual environment is my daughter coming to my work station to demand playtime!”
What implications has it had on our business and the way we run it?
“From my perspective, it shows our adaptability,” says Samia, “we transitioned very quickly to working from home. Everyone has created different group chats and we’ve managed to stay in touch on a daily basis to make sure we’re all up to date on what’s happening and our business plans for the future.
“I think the situation demonstrates how caring and compassionate we can be too. It’s admirable to see that we’ve made sure everyone’s stayed through all of this; in fact, I felt that it was everyone’s first priority. We’ve shown that we’re strong as a team, very adaptable and that we can work together well from different locations.”
How has the market and the industry been affected?
Such an unpredictable time has obviously taken its toll on a range of sectors and markets, something that Samia has noted during this period: “The market has been volatile, energy demand has dramatically reduced due to lockdown, and industrial sites have closed. We’ve seen negative prices in the UK Power market, and we’ve seen gas prices at unprecedented low levels.
“However, we’ve worked on solutions with our clients and maintained the high quality and outstanding service we provide. By listening to our clients’ feedback, and now with lockdown easing in the UK, we’re hopeful that everyone we work with will get through this crisis and come back stronger.”
As for Zhenxing, the pandemic slowed LNG demand in an already difficult market: “This led to an additional operational effort in delivery logistics, which has certainly been a challenge. However, SEFE Marketing & Trading has dealt with things well by continuing to work with our partners in order to create opportunities.”
What lessons have you learnt in this time?
Ultimately, it’s important that we use what has been a difficult time for good in the future. As unpredictable as things have been, there have also been positives, leading to qualities that we may not have known were at our disposal before the pandemic hit. What have our team learned about themselves and others during lockdown?
“Communication and empathy have been key,” says Samia. “I think we’ve managed extremely well as a team because of the great relationships we have within the organisation. It’s wonderful to see how we can still work together and perform during all of this.
“The same applies to our clients, it’s been remarkable to see that we’ve managed to continue working together effectively.”
For Zhenxing, this time has fostered a strength amongst the team: “Everyone coming together (even though we’re apart) and making things work when it matters is really special. This grit and attitude show we are ready to prosper as a company and a society when things get back to normal.”
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