One of the key strengths of Inogen Alliance is our global network of independent sustainable businesses that are part of our associate network. During this pandemic, we’ve tapped into the strength of this network to share updates, information and learnings across regions. In early May, we held our first virtual associate meeting where we heard from key leaders in our network on impacts from Covid-19.
Andrew Young, Group Director EnviroSolutions & Consulting (ESC) and Inogen Alliance board member
At first Singapore was held up as a poster child for their containment and proactiveness in response to Covid-19. Now we are seeing a second wave of the virus spreading and hitting the migrant population especially hard. Many of the cases being reported now started with imported cases from other countries and regions. In Southeast Asia, overall there is a decline in the number of cases and some countries including Vietnam and Thailand are coming out of lockdown. However, Singapore has recently extended their lockdown for a few weeks just ending June 1 and going into a phased safe re-opening and transition approach.
At ESC we are seeing a spike in clients requiring temperature screenings when entering buildings, while most EHS&S audits and site visits have stopped. The Asian region is also experiencing large growth in EHS software, online webinars and remote audits as everyone adjusts to new ways of working.
Andreas Kopton, CEO HPC Group and Inogen Alliance board member
When the regional lockdown in the Wuhan region of China was announced, Europe was fascinated and convinced that such measures would not be possible on our continent. After the virus appeared in Italy and Austria and politics decided not only regional but national lockdowns, we were shocked. Shocked by the restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms and shocked by the widespread approval of the population. Never in the 300,000 year history of humanity has there been an almost worldwide lockdown. It wasn't the flu virus that was contagious, the lockdown was contagious. The medical crisis became a political crisis and an economic crisis of unimaginable magnitude is developing.
The worst is fear: fear of being infected, dying, getting close to others, fear of unemployment, becoming poor - fear of everyone and everything. This fear is the real plague and leads to mental distancing through social distancing.
A hard confinement was declared in Italy, France and Spain, which sentenced HPC employees to working from home. The restrictions were less rigid in Germany, Austria and Poland. Over a weekend, the IT department of HPC managed to equip almost 600 employees so that they could work from home. Short-time work has been registered and liquidity assistance has been used wherever possible.
Orders and backlog are still promising. Field work is only possible to a limited extent, so the preparation of expert reports is delayed. Video calls are used intensively internally and externally - nevertheless, we are all looking forward to the easing and the opportunity to meet again in person.
Brian Ricketts, CEO Antea Group
With most businesses across the country closed by mid-March, Antea Group USA quickly transitioned it’s 400+ employees to remote work environments, either from home or in the field with additional safety measures. In the USA, business closure and re-opening decisions are happening at the local government level, creating a patchwork of geographies operating in different stages of COVID response.
While Antea Group was deemed an essential business for its work within the energy, water, public works and hazardous materials sectors, there are currently no plans to rush employees back into office environments just yet. The general public has adopted a “safer at home” mentality, and much of Antea Group USA’s services can be done virtually through laptop computers, phone calls, email and web meeting communication tools. There has been added focus to connecting with clients during this time; both at a personal level as there are many longstanding relationships and a professional level on how we can help manage through this health crisis. Additionally, the company has identified new opportunities to support clients during the pandemic, including remote site assessments using drones and smart glasses as well as offering pandemic response planning services as part of our Health & Safety practice. While there are still many unknowns, Antea Group USA is navigating the health crisis from a position of strength and sense of resiliency.
Hilton Lucio, Managing Director Antea Group, and Inogen Alliance board member
Brazil is starting to look at how to get back to work, but in a new world with different approaches to working virtually and without international travel in the near future. There is also a cultural approach to the Latin American perspective on what the new normal looks like.
In the beginning Antea Group Brazil leveraged the Inogen Alliance with our close relationships and contacts to respond to the pandemic. Firsthand information and unbiased technical information and impressions from associates in China and Italy were obtained to properly understand the seriousness of the situation with the virus spreading. Antea Group Brazil was ahead of the curve in another way because of a potential virus exposure from an employee. We decided to quickly close down our office and work from home and were able to help clients do the same.
Once things settled into a routine, I started thinking about the community and how others were doing. I realized a local favorite bakery in the neighborhood was facing serious financial challenges; so Antea Group Brazil decided to help finance the bakery and used it as an opportunity to help distribute bread in the community to high risk populations. We have donated over 36,000 loaves of bread. We also came up against a moral challenge with personal protective wear (PPE) distribution when hospitals and those needing supplies the most were at risk of supply shortage. We told clients we could not source PPE ahead of hospitals, and instead helped with other needs such as cleaning products.
We can help
These are a few Inogen Alliance stories, and they are likely similar to other perspectives coming out globally with the universal Covid-19 crisis. At Inogen Alliance we have a tagline “Global Thinking. Local Delivery”, and with the current environment this concept has never been more important. There is a need for global thinking, shared learnings, and coming together to help manage through crisis. There is also a need to look at unique geographic perspectives in how we respond to employee health and safety. The Inogen Alliance is well equipped to help multinational organizations manage through these changes.