On the front lines

Me@BESIX me@BELEMCO Me@Socogetra Me@SixConstruct Me@BESIX Infra Me@Cobelba Me@JacquesDelens Me@FrankiFoundations Me@Vandenberg Me@Vanhout Group 3 min read

Dear colleagues,

In every country where we are present, another week of lock-down, confinement or reinforced social distancing has started. We hope this message find you, your families, and your communities safe and in good health. We are thinking of you, and of your partners, at this challenging time and acknowledge the personal and professional challenges that you all experience for the moment.

Today we wanted to convey some information that we hope you’ll find helpful.

On the business side, the only sites that remain active are those where it is safe to do so, taking into account among others the social distancing measures. In the Middle East, The Netherlands and Australia, sites are operating almost unhampered; in the rest of the world, a majority of our sites had to be slowed down to respect quarantine regulations. While this will have helped flatten the curve, it has also impacted heavily so many of you, facing forced unemployment.

Rebooting the economy of our countries is the next vital step for our societies, where BESIX has an important role to play. A task force in Belgium is actively preparing for the gradual resumption of work, although it is unclear how fast this will be, and will leverage these action plans to speed up the resumption of our activities outside Belgium.

We would like to thank the operational teams, backed up by QHSE, who are carrying out detailed risk analysis to determine the conditions under which work can possibly be resumed in the future, while safeguarding health and safety measures. Procurement colleagues are also joining forces with project teams to maintain or reignite strong ties with our supply chains.

On the support side, we want to extend our congratulations to our IT teams. Our IT network is strong and stable and enables us to collaborate efficiently across units and borders. Our colleagues in the Legal departments are also very vigilant to the impact of the crisis on the proper execution of our contracts. They are fully focused on asserting our rights and on concretely supporting the operations in this respect. The Finance teams are currently monitoring the financial impacts of the crisis on our various activities while ensuring the financial liquidity of the Group. Finally we extend our thanks to the People teams who are supporting staff members with care and respect in these complex times.

And above all, we would like to thank you all warmly, all of you, in your respective roles, for staying the course and contributing to the solidarity needed to overcome the crisis.

Let’s face it: the coronavirus is plunging us into a crisis of unprecedented proportions. The longer the crisis lasts, the greater the economic damage. The urgency is to contain the epidemic. At the same time, we must, as soon as possible, find ways to revive a more resilient BESIX. In this context, we are urging you to keep expenditure under the tightest control, while focusing on our core activities. The focus must be on stopping or slowing down all non-business critical expenditures.

We acknowledge that the unknown is frightening. We have never been through something of this scale together. But, as our businesses are temporarily disrupted, we want to share our confidence in the strength of our Group.

We are a smart, passionate and resilient force and we will get through this together. The challenge we face requires us to act together, to get out of our silos. Even in isolation, this crisis is testing our collective strength. We don’t know when this storm will pass. But we know how to respond: with empathy. In the many professional emails we exchange with so many across the globe, we see suddenly these small questions rising: “How are you holding up?”, “Is everyone safe?”, “How can I help?”. And the chorus is always the same: “I’m here if you need me.”

Without empathy, all the efforts made will be useless. Or with the words of Yannic, a colleague from the Middle East who recently reached out to us, "Family, friends and colleagues are an incredible resource in these unsettling times: they give you the strength you need to face the highs and the lows."

Take care,

Rik Vandenberghe,
together with the members of the Executive Committee