We write about how to run, manage, and grow global trade sales and operations.

Working remotely on global trade ops in the time of Covid-19

Working remotely on global trade ops in the Time of Covid-19

The old curse about “living in interesting times” is feeling true these days. 

We’re a typical technology company, with people scattered across the country, and all of us accustomed to working remotely. We also designed a system that manages all of global trade execution operations online - without a single paper. If anyone was built for working remotely, it’s the TradeLanes team.

And yet, remote work has special challenges…..

Our CEO spent a couple days working at home before realizing his kitchen sink has had a slow leak for weeks (maybe months?). He can’t get a plumber in to fix it, so after spending a couple hours on the problem to no avail, he left a bucket which he empties a couple times a day.

At my place, we have a huge whiteboard schedule set up to ensure that both parents don’t end up on video calls simultaneously (which is an instant cue for the kids to start yelling at each other). Between calls, I’m trying to teach both a 7-year-old AND myself Common Core math... 

As uncomfortable as this seems to us at TradeLanes, we’re hearing some pretty rough stories from our customers. Many operational people work on desktop machines, not laptops, so getting them set up for offsite work has been tricky. Global trade still generates a lot of pieces of paper, which can no longer be scanned and uploaded from central locations.

A lot of freight companies still depend on legacy programs that either need to be installed locally, or don’t play nicely with VPNs.  Worse, we’ve heard more than one report of remote workers not being able to access VPNs with Chromebooks or iPads, often the only computing device available at hand. Although we’re thankfully mostly past the days of needing RSA keychain tokens to log on to corporate networks, IT departments are pulling their hair out over people using personal emails and unsecure cloud file sharing services to get their work done.  

By all reports, these disruptions will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. Keeping your global trade execution network functioning will require all parts of your company - contracting, supply chain, logistics, inventory, financial - to start rowing in the same direction. Everything will need to be digitized, and you’ll need a single global system to act as an integrated source of truth, giving management and front-line workers real-time proactive data to work with. 

The best and strongest organizations always respond to adversity by rising to the occasion, working together, and finding creative solutions to unexpected problems. A community of like-minded trade and supply chain professionals is coalescing online to help navigate through these challenges. 

We’re feeling lucky that TradeLanes is built for remote collaboration - which means the system shines if everyone is working from home / remotely. No paper required. 

Covid-19 is a tragedy of unknown scale. It’s also the catalyst for global trade executives to get their operations entirely digitized - from contract to delivery.  

As always, if you want to learn more about TradeLanes product or just chat, please reach out to me at chris@tradelanes.co. I’m always happy to help walk you through an analysis of your operations.