Companies in northern Italy, the country’s economic lung, are trying to adapt to the epidemic of the new coronavirus by developing telework for those who can, even if the impact could be significant for some.
Since last week, the peninsula has experienced an explosion of contamination, making it the most affected European country. Wednesday, the assessment amounted to 374 cases, including 12 dead: the vast majority (271) is in Lombardy, a region of the economic capital Milan, followed by Veneto (71).
However, these two regions alone represent around 30% of the Italian GDP.
While the government has taken drastic measures, including the quarantining of 11 northern cities, and the fear of contagion is strong, businesses have had to adapt quickly.
“They have two concerns: the health of their employees first and the evolution of their activity, with the difficulties to move their salespeople or employees, and the fear of a drop in their production,” said AFP. Alessia Forte, President of the security consulting firm, Forte Secur Group.
“To properly analyze the risks and make sure to reduce them, we advised our customers to set up crisis round tables, with all the key contacts of the company: doctor, security, HRD, production, logistics”, explains -t it.
Many companies have set up telework in affected or nearby areas, such as the oil group Eni, the energy giant Enel, the luxury leather goods company Tod’s or UniCredit.
– Suspended trips –
The headquarters of this large bank in Milan, a large tower where 4,000 people usually work, is thus almost empty.
But, said a spokesman for AFP, “this has no impact on the operational functioning of the bank. We have been doing + smart working + since 2013, one day a week, there it is only for an extended period”.
“In our company and with our customers, the implementation of teleworking was done very quickly and went very well, with employees very available. This thanks to the digital transformation occurred in the last two years”, notes Paul Renda, of the Miller group of consultants, one of whose headquarters is located near Lodi, the outbreak zone of the epidemic.
In some factories or companies (UniCredit, telephone groups, logistics, etc.), temperature control is carried out at the entrance. Above a certain temperature (between 37.2 and 37.5 depending on the group), the person, supplier or employee, cannot enter.
This is the case in the tap manufacturing company Rubinetterie Bresciani (500 employees), based in Lombardy, which has taken a series of measures.
“We have closed our sports hall and canteen, people cannot beat face to face. Employee travel is also prohibited unless expressly authorized by management, which led to the development of the video conference,” explains AFP its CEO, Aldo Bonomi.
– Armani factories closed –
The aeronautical giant Leonardo has also suspended the national and international travel of its employees while Enel and Unicredit only allow trips deemed essential.
Among the other measures taken in certain companies: the use of masks at security checks or the arrangement of the reception with the installation of a window, explains Ms. Forte.
The fashion house Armani, which had already decided to parade without audiences during Fashion Week, made an even more radical choice, closing its production workshops for the week.
Despite their good reactivity, some companies are nevertheless worried because the epidemic should lead to a recession in Italy in the first half.
Several major Milanese trade fairs, such as the Mido, an international eyewear event, or the Furniture and Design Fair have been postponed, which gives rise to fears because these are key moments for meeting customers and storing orders.
There is also the impact of psychosis. “At the international level, the question is experienced very strongly. In relations with foreign interlocutors, there are beginning to be concrete problems, with fewer orders or canceled meetings abroad”, for fear of contagion, says Renda.