If all goes as planned, I should be on my way back to Indonesia in a week’s time. I will have to do a 5-day quarantine in Jakarta, but that’s another story and I’ll keep you posted on this as things evolve in the right direction.
With Maya and me currently both in Switzerland, people often ask if I don't have to go back to Pulau Pef earlier. «How do they manage without you guys there?» My first reaction usually is something along the line of «What do you mean, how do they manage? They’re doing their job and they know what is expected of them.» But then I realize that people assume that without a western person on site, the operation cannot possibly go on. «Don’t they need a western person there? Can they manage on their own?»
Yes, they can! Most of the management team is still at the resort, so the daily operation – at least what’s left of it without guests – is running fine. Even if something unforeseen happens, such as one of our staff falling ill or someone trying to steal our equipment during the night, they find a way of dealing with the problem within the small team that is still on the island.
Of course, there are issues that require a discussion with Maya. That’s why she has weekly Zoom or Skype meetings with the management team. There are topics that demand a boss’ decision, but even then, the cooperation seems to be working fine with virtual meetings. Everyone around the world is currently working remotely, why shouldn’t we? And we have been doing it for many years already as Maya always spent a few months a year in Switzerland, even before the pandemic.
But like any other team, we all need to feel the connection and support sometimes, and that’s not always easy via digital devices, as you may know yourself. Especially with our poor internet connection, it can be challenging to deal with emotions or personal problems as the connection is sometimes simply too weak to even use video, or the meeting needs to be postponed because of the connection breaking down constantly. But, we are used to these challenges and have learnt to be patient. It always ends up working somehow…
To stay connected on a personal level, on top of the professional one, we send each other personalized messages or videos. A few weeks ago, the team sent Maya a video of our Pef band playing her favorite song. She was very touched by this. Maya and I, on the other hand, send pictures or videos of our life and activities here in Switzerland, so that they get an impression of what we are doing while we are away. For most of my colleagues, it is very hard to imagine life in our area of the world because they have not had the chance to travel so far yet. Many of them have never seen snow, so of course we send them pictures and videos of beautiful snowed-in Switzerland.
I have often mentioned that we are like a family on the island – the Pef family. Maybe this is why we need to feel connected on a more personal level than other work colleagues. After all, it is a special work environment that we have on our small island, living and working together 24/7. And even though our mentalities are very different, and we sometimes don’t know much about our private lives outside the resort, we feel connected on an emotional level. And we try to keep this up, whatever the distance. Just as I’m writing this text, my Raja4Divers phone keeps bleeping with messages in our office chat. It feels good to somehow be involved in the island operation even if it’s just by WhatsApp. I’m reading (but not always understanding, because the chat is in Indonesian!) about food and water supplies from Sorong, transfer boat delays or staff issues, but also about happy times and fun staff events. Almost as if I were there with my colleagues.
A little more patience, I will be very soon!
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…