Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Half of our staff worldwide are smart working, and we have introduced a completely unprecedented additional insurance policy

When this pandemic will finally be out of our lives and turn into a chapter in history books, we will be able to look back and think about what we went through during the crisis. We will do so both individually and as a Group, here at Enel. Knowing we did all we possibly could to look after everyone’s health, starting with our own staff.


Smarter than ever

“Around half of us will be smart working and the other half will be working in our plants and on our networks using new operational modalities.” In the early days of March, Chairman Patrizia Grieco and CEO Francesco Starace sent out this message to the Group’s 68,000 employees across 32 nations worldwide.

Smart working was nothing new to Enel, as we had introduced it in 2016. However, it had never been implemented on such a broad and global scale. And “for as long as it is necessary, depending on the evolution of the pandemic across the world.”


Today, 55% of our co-workers are working remotely – that is over 37,000 people. In the countries in which we are present, there are now 13 times more individuals smart working every day. The journey towards digitalisation that we embarked upon some time ago has helped us to prepare for this. And so we have been able to easily ensure that all of our meetings and training courses can be held remotely. 


“Remember the core values that today are more important than ever: trust, responsibility, innovation and proactivity will keep us united, even though we are physically separated, as we continue working to provide an essential service to the countries we love”

Enel Chairman Patrizia Grieco and CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace


Naturally enough, work on the ground required to guarantee energy production and distribution cannot be done remotely: all these necessary activities, however, are being carried out using the strictest of safety measures. We have also eliminated all non-essential travel. Because our goal, as the Chairman and CEO’s message reminds us, is to “reduce to the very minimum all risks relating to the Coronavirus.” This is why we created a special global taskforce, assisted by local taskforces in each country in which Enel is present.

For the same reason, we also issue regular information updates and recommendations on the risks related to Covid-19: from hygiene and healthcare regulations on the correct use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and ways to reduce the risk of contagion to advice on how to avoid falling prey to phishing, which criminals have increased exponentially to exploit people’s widespread anxiety.

To protect our employees’ peace of mind, we have launched a remote psychological support service available through a dedicated freephone number. The service may be accessed anonymously, and can also lead to long-term counselling. The initiative was launched in Italy and will also be extended to other countries.


Extra insurance and the Leave Bank

If there is one thing that we never tire of driving home here at Enel it’s innovation. This training of ours is now proving just how effective it is: our innovative spirit is helping us to find original solutions in this unprecedented situation.

We have drawn up a new policy covering all employees worldwide, should they be hospitalised as a result of the Coronavirus. It guarantees them additional insurance on top of all the other existing types of healthcare insurance they may have: it is the first insurance policy of its kind in the world, and was drawn up specifically for the Enel Group.

For those whose work cannot be carried out from home but whose normal duties are suspended or cut back, we have also developed another equally innovative option, which we have launched in Italy through an agreement with the unions: we have set up a “Leave Bank” allowing all employees – from top management to operatives – to donate one or more leave days to their colleagues, to reduce the overtime required to cover the personal time used in this period.


Our resilience

For several days now, our power plants and our main offices in Italy have been lit up in the green, white and red of the national flag. It is a symbolic gesture to express our solidarity with the country where we were founded almost 60 years ago, and which is paying such a high price for this healthcare emergency. It is also, however, a reminder of the importance of guaranteeing energy production and supply to everyone in such a delicate time.

The emergency has also been something of a resilience test for our digital networks. Millions of people are live-streaming meetings and exchanging information online, and this is a challenge for our Group even though we had been investing in digitalising our processes for some time now. For the last year, the Company has been in full cloud mode, and this is helping us to manage the stress put on the network by the vast increase in the amount of data being exchanged. “To give just one example, the number of audio streams on Microsoft Teams, the platform we use in the company, quadrupled in a single month – but the network didn’t crash,” says Bruno Bianchini, Head of Operations in our Global Digital Solutions unit. The crisis is actually becoming an opportunity to accelerate growth. 


“Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all doing an intensive course in digitalisation and learning a lot about our work and about how technology can help us to become more efficient. We are leaping forward two or three years in terms of our relationship with the digital world”

Francesco Starace, Enel CEO and General Manager


The control rooms which manage our customer relations in all of our countries have had to rapidly reorganise to take on the work of shops and local contact centres: in Italy, for instance, 650 of our colleagues who were working outside the home have made themselves available to answer customer queries remotely, by phone or email, instead.


But the health emergency remains the priority

Naturally enough, the requests that are coming in from structures at the frontline in the healthcare crisis remain our priority.

Throughout Italy, the non-profit Enel Cuore has been helping healthcare structures and the Civil Protection Department to increase their capacity for patients and purchase necessary equipment. “We are an Italian multinational with deep roots in the community, and we have made sustainability the mainstay of our strategy,” explained Enel and Enel Cuore Chairman Patrizia Grieco. “It is therefore not only natural, but also our duty to society to help the areas in which we operate and the communities with which we work every day.”

The “Protect Our Heroes” (#ProtegeANuestrosHeroes) campaign has been launched to help doctors and nurses in Spain, another country embattled by the pandemic. Our subsidiary Endesa has purchased healthcare products (PPE, respirators and medicines) and is offering special rates for the supply of energy to hospitals and hotels converted into quarantine centres.


This extraordinary effort adds to the help of our many Enel volunteers across the world, who have decided to donate their time to work at the frontline. These include our co-workers in Milan who are involved in the “Illuminiamo le Tavole” (“Light up the Table”) project, which is using electric cars to collect and deliver food and groceries to struggling families. Many Enel employees all over the globe have also decided to donate blood, prompted by the Group’s invitation. The healthcare crisis has indeed resulted in a dramatic drop in blood bank supplies, so donating blood is one of the few good reasons to leave home and truly help those who are suffering. We are a global Group, and we may meet remotely, but at a time like this we must remember to help the people closest to us, in every country.