OHB Italia is based in Milan - and thus in the eye of the coronavirus storm, so to speak. Luckily the roughly 200 employees have so far been able to get through this difficult period without any cases of illness thanks to their exemplary behavior. What measures did OHB Italia take?
Roberto Aceti: Unfortunately, we find ourselves right in one of the current epicenters of the coronavirus crisis. Lombardy alone has half as many confirmed cases of infection as the whole of China, while having only a fraction of the population. In this situation everybody develops deep concerns for their own life and the lifes of their family and close friends. We completely understand that. In order to deal with this situation, we as managers of OHB Italia, have made sure that all employees can work in safe environments either at home or on premises. At the same time we have of course had to make sure that the company survives the inevitable economic and financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis. We have set up an emergency management group consisting of representatives of HSE (Health, Safety and Environment), Operations, Human Resources, Legal and Finance, which has been coming together in daily meetings since the beginning of the crisis to monitor the unfolding of events and make appropriate decisions. We have also immediately enhanced our IT infrastructure by introducing more dedicated VPN lines to enable every employee to work efficiently from home.
What measures have been implemented on site?
When the first cases of COVID-19 occurred in Lombardy, we implemented a business continuity plan that is based on a biological risk analysis. To ensure that all on-site activities like AIT can take place in a safe environment, we derived the following safety measures from that plan:
- Daily thorough sanitation of the premises;
- Masks and protective gloves for all employees;
- Social distancing of employees;
- Constant contact with health authorities and all employees for health monitoring and to ensure short reaction times in case of suspected SARS-CoV-2 infections;
- Regular contact with the Prime Minister’s office to receive permission to operate as a company in this situation of general lock down;
- Involvement of workers delegate for safety on each site.
Are all your employees still working their full hours?
Unfortunately, in the current situation not all employees can continue to work. In order to ensure business continuity, we have to be very selective in picking the activities that have a reasonable chance to generate liquidity in the short or medium term. We have had no other choice than to rely on the social support plan recently issued by the government as a reaction to the coronavirus crisis to support our employees that cannot, at the moment, continue to work.
How many of your employees are currently working from home?
Roughly 60% of our employees are working from home. If our scheme proves to be efficient, we can be confident to overcome this crisis and return to normality as soon as the pandemic is over.
How do you manage to maintain motivation in the workforce?
I am proud to see the positive response of our employees to the difficult situation we are facing. It is important to communicate and to explain the ultimate goals and the motivations behind all the measures put in place. It is also important for everybody to realize that individual responses and behaviors have immediate effects on how quickly we can overcome this crisis. At the same time is crucial for the management to operate responsibly and to show proactive leadership that enables the company to survive during this difficult time. Mutual trust, responsibility and personal involvement are needed to keep our spirits high and reach our goals.
What effects has the lockdown on your private and social life?
The lockdown has deeply changed our personal and social life. Keeping social distance might remain as a habit even after the emergency of Covid-19. Being forced to stay at home encouraged a larger use of social media, also for people so far were not used to it and I think such approach will go on in the future.The lockdown obliged the most of the people to stay at home, a situation very difficult to accept, even when it is being protracted for such long time. But it is also a challenge that can be turned it into a unique opportunity dedicating more time to ourselves, our family and those are close to us.
Is there a message you would like to share with all colleagues of OHB Group as well as the employees of OHB Italia?
I would like to encourage all OHB colleagues to be positive on the future, to trust us on what we do for the safety of employees and for the future of the Group. I have no doubts: we will surely overcome this difficult time.