Challenges and accomplishments during a pandemic

Metizoft employees share their reflections on 2020 and discuss accomplishments despite the challenges caused by the Covid-19 virus.

- Since Metizoft is established with offices in Singapore and China, we received early indication that something possibly bad was about to develop around this new virus. With the knowledge of a potentially global crisis in mind, Metizoft was quick to establish an emergency group and develop a strategy for worst case scenario, says Tor Inge Hareide, CAO for Metizoft.

Metizoft was already experiencing a restructuring process after rapid growth the previous year, where the number of employees had doubled in a short time. Uncertainty and little knowledge about the possible consequences of Covid-19 led to drastic measures to be able to continue sound operations and be prepared for what may come.

- We had facilitated for home office a while before the Norwegian authorities presentet their guidelines. We were quick to introduce Teams in our daily communication and our management team had frequent meetings to update status and plan ahead. With several new employees in training, we had to be efficient and focus on good communication. In addition, business travels were reduced to a minimum, which created challenges especially for the sales department and our HazMat inspectors. All our employees made a greater effort than we could have expected, and we are incredibly proud of our collaboration in these uncertain times. A good working environment and loyal employees have been crucial to the success for Metizoft during this global crisis, says Hareide.

Better than expected

After Easter, the situation stabilized for Metizoft, and the uncertainty surrounding financial consequences for our clients was gone. There was a great demand from customers who had to get Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) in place according to new EU regulations. Metizoft's Project Department had to adapt rapidly to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

- Thinking back, I am impressed with how well the day to day operation and internal communication functioned. We are fortunate to have a very capable IT Department that supported all employees with new routines and new tools that were to be used. Stian (Stian Tarberg, ICT Manager) took everything in stride, which led to an easier workday in this abnormal and uncertain times, says Gunn Skorpen, Senior Project Manager.

Marius V. Kvalsvik, also Senior Project Manager, agrees that Metizoft's internal expertise has been crucial to success.

- We have a Technology and Developments Department in-house. The software developed for all of Metizoft’s systems are developed internally. Should problems arise, Metizoft has short decision lines and technological challenges are fixed immediately. We do not have to wait for an external consultant to sort things out, Kvalsvik says.

They say that some employees struggled at the home office, where the whole family often worked side by side, in addition to small children who demanded attention.

- We are very proud and impressed with how our employees handled the situation. We had weekly Teams meetings, but we also made sure to call each employee on a regular basis. We always focused on making everyone feel connected and we made sure to be available for questions. In addition, the management was quick to get an overview of the situation and the status was always updated, which I believe made employees feel safer, says Skorpen.

The flow of communication internally exceeded all expectations, and so did the dialogue with clients and suppliers.

- The Project Department is completely dependent on receiving necessary documentation to be able to maintain IHM compliant in accordance to given regulations. We expected delays and that it would be difficult to get answers due to covid-19, but it has worked surprisingly well with a few exceptions. It has not significantly affected our operations, says Kvalsvik.

Travel restrictions, but fully operational

Jan Rune Dalsøren, COO and responsible for Metizoft’s HazMat inspectors, talks about the challenges that arose due to travel restrictions and how Metizoft still could be fully operational.

- It has been challenging to send our Norwegian inspectors abroad to carry out IHM inspections on board client’s ships. Some of our inspectors was quarantined for over 3 consecutive weeks in Mexico, South Africa, and South America, says Dalsøren.

Fortunately, Metizoft had already established a vast global network of agents and inspectors, which has been an absolute necessity during the pandemic.

- We have a large client base worldwide and are dependent on being able to operate from ports in all continents. There has been high global activity and we have worked purposefully to avoid infection among our inspectors, which has been successful so far. None of our employees has tested positive for Covid-19. We will be finished with all projects within the current deadline and that is rewarding for both Metizoft and our clients, says Dalsøren.

In addition, he tells about a new service that Metizoft could present in 2020: Asbestos Removal.

- Due to numerous customer inquiries about asbestos removal, several of our employees have been certified and have had their first assignments with clients.

2020 would be the year!

Carl Henrik Moltumyr works as Sales Manager at Metizoft and talks about the expectations the Sales Department had for 2020.

- We were really looking forward to 2020! Metizoft had grown significantly in 2019 and our Sales Department made extensive preparations to break all sales records in 2020. A lot of business travels was scheduled, and we were really looking forward to a lot of events. At the end of February, we were at a trade fair in Hamburg and the following week we were going to Rotterdam, says Moltumyr.

The trip to Rotterdam was cancelled, and the world was suddenly turned upside down.

- All business travels abruptly stopped, we had to work from home and the future looked bleak. We thought there would be a big drop in client requests, and we prepared for the worst. Fortunately, we have a proactive and skilled management, and we soon experienced the situation to become the exact opposite! Orders from clients came rushing in, and we burst the capacity for the Project Department, Molturmyr says with a laugh.

Owner and CEO, Gry Cecilie Sydhagen, together with her management team, had developed strategies for worst case scenario. Metizoft had consequently an early plan for how to organize during the pandemic and a plan for reaching clients without traditional meeting activities. This was one of the factors for further growth and several new hires for Metizoft in 2020.

“We look back on a year with several challenges and concerns, but it has still been a very good year for Metizoft. We continued a growth despite the pandemic and one can only wonder how the result could have been for us in 2020 if it were not for Covid-19. Going forward, we are focusing on innovation and development of new sustainable solutions for the ship’s lifecycle and of course commitment to further progress.”

— Gry Cecilie Sydhagen, CEO

Last updated Mar 08, 2023