ELNOS Group: Overcome challenges during covid-19 that seek standardized solutions
MEMBERS SHARE COVID-19 STORIES
ELNOS Group, one of company members of Swedish Chamber of Commerce in B&H, employs more than 500 workers and operates in 10 countries in Europe, making the impact of the pandemic on our operations significant, they say. We interviewed ELNOS to better grasp the problems that they are encountering during the COVID-19 crisis, the measures the company has taken in order to protect its employees, as well as the overall challenges for companies operating between B&H and Sweden.
Can you briefly describe the problem your corporation encountered in the outbreak of COVID-19?
At the time of the outbreak, the first problem and an imperative were protecting our workers and preventing the spread of the virus within the workforce. Prior taking any other measure, we have taken measures towards protection and social responsibility. Because of this, we did not only follow the recommendations and orders of the state authorities, we also took several measures ourselves to ensure the health of our workers. In addition to this reaction, we sought solutions in order to continue our business, which is largely based on the flow of workers, machinery and goods between the countries in which we operate. Closing borders is the biggest problem and challenge for business.In order to fulfil our contractual obligations to Investors we had to react so that all members of our group have enough manpower and material resources for a minimum period of two months.
Bearing in mind that all countries movement of people defined as risky and potentially dangerous, we moved our people only after testing for COVID-19 and exclusively in controlled means of transport, without using any form of public or commercial transportation. Business stoppage was not an option, as ELNOS Group performs operations on power facilities of national importance for the countries where we are engaged.Therefore, in a timely response, using leased aircraft and trucks, we timely relocated people and machinery to required locations across Europe.
We are proud of the fact that there were no infected workers within our collective, as well as the fact that we did not cancel any project, invoking force majeure, nowhere in Europe. Of course, all the above measures have created significant additional costs and we will see in the coming period how this has affected the profitability of our business, but now we do not consider it imperative. Further impact on business will depend on the duration of the epidemic and the type of government measures enacted. If the epidemic continues, in addition to financial problems, the biggest problems will be the extension of work and residence permits for our people abroad.
How has the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce helped you solve this problem?
First, through understanding and counseling, including on how to obtain work permits in Sweden, or how to adapt complicated procedures to new circumstances. It is very important when companies clearly see that they can expect the support of both the Embassy and the Chamber. We hope that in the future we will jointly find a way to work with our partners in Sweden as easily as possible.We have planned to continue investing in our member company ELNOS Nordic AB based in Sweden, but for this we need to have available workforce in Sweden. It is common knowledge that there is a significant staff shortage regarding our activity throughout EU and we therefore believe that our proposals will come to understanding at the Migration Agency of Sweden, because without work permits we cannot carry out our activity. On the other hand, we also expect an understanding based on the results of our work, which is best illustrated by data on 60 projects implemented in Sweden and 11 contracted projects that are under implementation and preparation and will be completed by the end of 2021.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges for companies operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sweden? How should these issues be addressed in order to permanently improve the position of SWE/BIH companies?
There are two challenges we consider as most important. The first is to master the standards and the way of work in Sweden, which we, as a company, have succeeded in the last eight years of our presence in Sweden, and as a Group which has an established and operational member in Sweden for seven years. Another problem is the workforce. Nowhere in the EU is there enough engineers and electricians to build high-voltage power facilities. In the Western Balkans we can still find educated staff with experience. If we do not find understanding in Sweden, in terms of faster work permit requirements, our business will be significantly hampered.