2020 will go down in history as the year of the Covid-19 crisis. This topic dominated Unica’s business operations too from March, in part with respect to the continuation of our operations, but above all with regard to the health and safety of our employees. They deserve a huge commendation for their efforts to minimise the effects of the Covid-19 restrictions on our organisation.
The crisis has placed great demands on Unica’s ability to adapt; this is evident in numerous areas, as is described in this report. The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on Unica remained relatively limited in 2020, however, thanks in part to the strong basis that has been laid in recent years.
Three factors played a key role in making Unica crisis-proof. First is the decentralised entrepreneurship of the companies – now numbering more than 30 – that make up the Unica network. This decentralised entrepreneurship and personal contacts with clients enabled all the companies to respond quickly to the onset of the Covid-19 crisis. Together with clients, they were able to determine which activities could be continued and to identify the opportunities offered by the lower occupation rates in buildings. A second factor limiting the impact of the Covid-19 crisis is the wide range of specialist fields in Unica’s network of companies. This spread of activities meant that we did not have a situation in which all business activities were affected by the crisis. A final factor that helped make the group crisis-proof is the stability and diversity of the client portfolio. Unica’s focus on sectors that are less susceptible to economic cycles, such as food, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and public authorities, similarly helped limit the effects of the Covid-19 measures on our business activities.
The initial shock effect when the severity of the pandemic became clear in mid-March led to increased idle capacity for a short period, during which less work could be conducted. However, after close consultations with clients and after various operational and preventive measures had been taken, it proved possible to resume nearly all the work within a couple of weeks and the loss of income remained limited. With due observance of a wide range of measures, many projects were able to continue safely. Industry associations such as Techniek Nederland, as well as the governmental parties that are such important clients in our business, applied their knowledge and influence to make this possible.
In line with the crisis communication policy that was established in 2019, a Crisis Management Team (CMT) was assembled in early March to determine Unica’s own operational and preventive measures to cope with the Covid-19 crisis. The CMT was tasked with the central decision-making and coordination regarding all the Covid-19 measures, based on the principle of strict compliance with the RIVM guidelines. One of the key guidelines was for employees to work from home wherever possible. To facilitate, Unica’s own ICT infrastructure was extended substantially within just 48 hours. Whereas normally around 150 employees would regularly access the ICT environment from external devices, this number now rose to an average of 900 employees during the day. The use of Microsoft Teams for meetings also increased enormously. More than 2,500 employees at Unica now regularly use this application.