Farm Trans Eastern Europe during COVID-19

26 November 2020

In this Article Fred van Tol, Manager Farm Trans Eastern Europe, talks about his experiences with Covid-19 in Poland and how we, as Farm Trans Eastern Europe, are dealing with this crisis situation.

Since when have freedom-restricting measures been put in place?

“From March to mid-May, restaurants, schools, public buildings and sports facilities were closed and, at end of March, the borders were closed as well. There were many uncertainties about the restrictions in place in road transport. To avoid problems, we temporarily used smaller border crossings. The regulations in Poland are stricter than those in the Netherlands, and decisions had to be taken and implemented more quickly. As of 11 October, code Orange applied throughout the country, and measures were tightened up further starting from 21 October. For example, there is an obligation to wear a face mask in all public buildings, in shops and on the street. A maximum of 2 people are allowed to meet outside.”

How do your colleagues and ‘compatriots’ deal with this?

“The measures taken in Poland are not a point of discussion for ‘compatriots’. The rules are simply adhered to. Non-compliance with the rules is also subject to substantial fines. Polish colleagues were very wary in the first months of the crisis. After all, if you lose your job in Poland, there is no social safety network to protect you, as we know it in the Netherlands. For us, it was important to guide, support and motivate our drivers, in the best possible way, about the risks associated with corona. As Farm Trans, we have taken every responsibility to ensure the continuity of the company and the safety of all staff. We are the first transport company in the Netherlands with its own corona testing facility.”

How did you personally experience the lockdown?

“In the beginning it was a challenge to take away the fear and uncertainty from the team. As an organisation, you are responsible for approximately 90 Polish families and their future. To alleviate fears of possible cutbacks, we kept all employees continuously informed of positive and negative decisions with the underlying reasons. I have heard from many of my fellow colleagues that this has made us stand out positively from other companies. The offices themselves have been made fully corona-proof. In addition, we unfortunately no longer receive drivers and external visits at the offices. We have reduced office occupancy to less than 50%. Arrangements have been made so that colleagues working from home can continue to do so. A timetable has also been set up so that everyone has the opportunity to work partly in the office. Visiting clients in Poland was and still is not an option.”

What effect does the lockdown have on the work you do?

“The impact on work has been huge. My daily routine is now in a completely different setting because I work more from the Netherlands and from home, which is sometimes hard. It goes without saying that the measures that Farm Trans has taken are in the interest of all employees. Safety of the staff, both in the office as on the road, is paramount. We take the time to guide colleagues and keep them up to date so that everyone knows where they stand. Personally, the daily responsibility sometimes weighs on my mind. I realise that managing and motivating my team is more difficult now that I can’t physically sit at the table with them. I am proud of the pleasant and constructive cooperation among all colleagues at Farm Trans. The provision of information is excellent and we keep daily contact so that we keep abreast of the changing business and measures, and so we can stay in touch with the office.”

What do you expect this Christmas?

“Currently, I live and work partly in the Netherlands. I experience that travelling to Poland is difficult because flying is not recommended and there is a mandatory quarantine time in the Netherlands upon arrival. Christmas will be very different this year. In Poland as in the Netherlands, this celebration is very important, just like in the Netherlands. I myself will be with my family in the Netherlands at Christmas this year.

Fred van Tol, general manager Farm Trans Eastern Europe

Fred van Tol, Manager Farm Trans Eastern Europe, fvtol@farmtrans.com

Source: AGF Primeur

 

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