In 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound effect on Reykjavik Energy Group and its subsidiaries' operations. Society's essential services, e.g. utilities and energy production, must be protected. The pandemic, and the response to it, also clearly demonstrated, that a reliable fibre optic network is a fundamental infrastructure for society's resilience. Reykjavik Energy Group is responsible for these public interests, and thus the response to COVID-19 was decisive and successful.
No instances are known of infection in the workplace and no group infections occurred in the years 2020 and 2021. There were no service failures during these years due to the pandemic.
Crisis Management Committee and Dissemination to Employees
Reykjavik Energy Group's Crisis Management Committee held its first meeting in January 2020, in preparation for the imminent pandemic. Members of the Crisis Management Committee are the CEO, Managing Directors, Director of Environmental Affairs, Chief Communications Officer, and a member of the Health and Safety team.
The following is an example of steps taken:
- Requesting disclosure in case of travel abroad, early on in the pandemic and before border screenings.
- Requesting that employees do not report to work if they or a family member are suffering flu-like symptoms.
- Specific precautions for the operational control room, e.g. complete separation of shifts.
- Specific precautions for work teams and specialist staff, e.g. by securing complete separation of groups.
- Continuous education, dissemination of information and motivation.
- Mandatory working from home.
- Gathering restrictions.
- General disease prevention measures.
- Mandatory mask wearing where social distancing is not possible.
- Rules and restrictions on conduct in employees' cafeteria.
- Temporary ban on meetings with third parties, other than video conferencing and later restrictions on meetings with third parties on Reykjavik Energy Group's premises.
- Recommendations sent to employees regarding general disease prevention measures outside work hours.
The pandemic will leave some lasting changes to the workplace. After the homework and hybrid-work of employees became more common – which many employees liked – teleworking agreements have been made with about a quarter of the group's employees.
Fewer cut-offs in 2020, but then increase
In recent years, Reykjavik Energy Group has systematically worked on improving utility bill services. Emphasis is now put on assisting those who are in arrears. Service representatives have a wider range of solutions at their disposal, and the billing process has been streamlined. This has resulted in fewer bills being in arrears, and cut-offs due to nonpayment decreased substantially.
In early 2020, when it was foreseeable that COVID-19 would deal an economic blow, a decision was made to further increase flexibility when collecting, and cut-offs due to nonpayment reduced significantly between the years 2019 and 2020, though the number of companies in arrears increased. In 2021, the number of cut-offs increased mainly because of defaulting companies that didn't survive the pandemic despite various governmental remedies.
Number of cut-offs 2006-2021
Effect on Carbon Footprint
COVID-19 and responses to the pandemic has had conflicting effect on the Reykjavik Energy Group's carbon footprint. Many of the changes imposed decreased emissions, others increased it. Flight emissions were almost completely wiped out during the years 2020 and 2021. For considerable portions of these years, large number of employees telecommuted. Therefore, less actual commuting. In addition, commuting to meetings, either in the capital or outside it, was significantly reduced, thanks to telecommuting.
On the other hand, many employees work in constructions, and in order to safeguard their disease prevention, they were split into groups. Each group was assigned a vehicle for commuting purposes, from the Group's vehicle fleet. This meant more mileage was incurred by employees.