Dear Associates, Colleagues and Readers,
the crisis that hit us is unprecedented in the history of this country. It has left us confused, it has distorted our points of reference, it has challenged our certainties, forcing each of us to rethink our personal, social and work habits. In many cases it has forced us to a painful isolation, far from our loved ones and our families, in order to protect what matters the most.
Even today, almost three months after the first signs of this health emergency, it is not clear if and when the life that we knew and took for granted will be restored, but we certainly know that work needs to be resumed quickly to avoid an epochal economic crisis and limit the damage that we will inevitably have to repair at the end of this lockdown.
The European and Italian economic and industrial prospects are, in fact, already seriously compromised at this stage and, despite our characteristic resilience and the strength with which we are used to facing adversity, the duration and intensity of this crisis are putting our resources to a hard test.
A recent survey carried out among our Associates, who although speaking for very different sectors, belong to the same production chain, gave us a more detailed picture of the impact that Coronavirus is having on our reference sector, mechatronics. The variety of responses collected, while highlighting a generalized difficult situation, also displays different cases, depending on the geographical area, size and product declination. Many companies (64% of respondents), predictably, experienced a shift in orders from the second to the fourth quarter. A large majority (89.29%), however, also stated that in the last two months they had received requests for offers from new or regular customers. With regard to the company organization, almost all of the interviewees (95.43%) recorded the introduction or more substantial use of flexible and remotely managed methods such as smart working in their work environment. In some cases, workers have been asked to take advantage of their holiday time and many plan to use social safety nets such as unemployment benefits in the coming months, in the event that there is no rapid resolution of the current deadlock. It is more complex to make reliable forecasts on operational-financial autonomy. In general it varies from two to six months, based on the size and turnover of the individual company.
Even considering all possible variables, the situation we are facing appears to be extremely delicate. Fortunately, our sector is solid and healthy, but at the moment it needs help to restart with the same energy that has always characterized it. For this, it is essential that institutional support intervention is timely and appropriate, stripped of the excessive bureaucracy that would weaken its effectiveness. In fact, only with an immediate tax suspension we would maintain the positive growth path undertaken in 2005.
Phase 2 started on May 4, predicting a slow recovery of some economic activities. The precautions to be respected, dictated by the Corporate protocol regulating measures to fight and contain the spread of the virus in the workplace, impose completely new health procedures and behavioral rules, which we will have to get used to. New ways of working, new forms of collaboration, new organizational structures. We will have to rethink everything.
Many annual events, which have always marked our business, will not be held this year. Our expositions, our conferences and also our annual assembly, essential occasions for meeting and exchange, are temporary suspended and with no future date.
We will have to work remotely with our customers, whom we have always been used to meeting in person, as we believe human contact is essential in any personal and working relationship, postponing visits to when the situation will be safer.
In general, relationship dynamics are changing substantially. Companies will have to be ready to manage new approaches in all phases which, inevitably, will be strongly influenced by movement restrictions and social distancing. Limitations that are now sanctioned by decrees, but which will continue in the future because of the fears that will linger over all of us for a long time. Constraints that will radically change our approach to work: fewer physical contacts, greater difficulties in moving beyond one’s borders, the need to have fewer and fewer people in production environments. All in favor of methods such as smart working and solutions that allow us to act remotely. Among the most delicate phases there are, for example, testing, deliveries, installations, routine maintenance and assistance: all situations that will have to be designed and managed in a completely different way than has been done so far. Fortunately, technology helps us: the path towards digitalization, that many companies have already started, will accelerate to meet these new needs.
Today, more than ever, we will have to rely on technical publications, digital platforms and tools for communication and virtual interaction, invaluable resources to bridge distances at a time when borders have taken on a new and profound meaning.
In this scenario, Associations such as AIdAM take on an even more decisive role, because it is essential that they continue to do what they have been carrying out for a few years, that is to concretely support their associates – especially small and medium-sized companies – in the complex journey towards this important change, through aggregation and real sharing that makes it possible to pool ideas, resources and solutions.
In short, together we will have to develop methods and strategies to overcome the constraints and fill in the gaps.
We entrepreneurs are aware of the need for this deep transformation.
We are ready to reinvent ourselves and to accept these indications ensuring maximum collaboration to protect our companies but, above all, the health of our workers, the first and indispensable resource for success.
Although no one can say for sure when this emergency will end, if and when a vaccine will be introduced and what scenarios we are going through, we have a duty to stay positive. We are the driving force of Italy, the identity that distinguishes us everywhere in the world, the excellence of ideas, products and innovation. We are a force that no emergency can ever bring to its knees. And once again we will come out winners, together.
Michele Viscardi, AIdAM President