Cruise ships turned into floating harbingers of doom during the pandemic. Now they have a chance to reposition themselves for the remote working boom.
Ronny Pettersen likes to play a game. He switches on his virtual background during video meetings, and waits to see how long — or if — people notice he’s working from a sailboat.
“I kind of had this challenge,” he said. “Will they find out? Will they notice? The challenge is to have internet access that’s good enough, so the video is perfect. If it’s really windy, I may be sliding away, so I try to see if anyone notices. That’s a fun thing I like to do.”
Pettersen, an engineer for Webex, which is part of Cisco, isn’t alone in working remotely, but he’s fairly unique in that he decided to take to the ocean. The pandemic was a breaking point for him, and after being stuck in his apartment in Olso, Norway, he bought the boat in May last year.
[caption id="attachment_438275" align="alignright" width="300"] Ronny Pettersen, an engineer for Webex at Cisco, works remotely from a sailboat. Picture: Ronny Pettersen[/caption]
“I figured, let’s do this. I knew the technology was there. I wanted as small a boat as possible that I could live in,” he said. “I spend a lot of time here, mainly because it works so well. My apartment is in Oslo, where there’s lots of traffic and noise. It’s calmer here, and a different way of living.”
Pettersen does have an advantage — he's well-versed in remote work as he tests Webex software and hardware. But there’s also the mindset. He can spend four or five days sailing if there’s enough sunlight for the solar-powered battery.
“I’m waking up and jumping into the water. It’s better than coffee to wake up to,” he said.
Cisco only just recently formalized its hybrid future. But there’s influence from the top, as one exec manages 2,000 employees from a travel trailer. Lorrissa Horton, vice president and general manager of Webex Strategy, hit the road with her family last year.
We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
Pettersen probably isn’t the target market for the cruise lines, but they are now catchi