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FIGHTING CORONAVIRUS TOGETHERThe Bouygues group and its subsidiaries confront Covid-19

Special Feature
7 min
27/11/2020

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect the entire world. To come to grips with the upheavals brought by this crisis, Bouygues has relied on its unique strengths, its diversity, and the dedicated involvement of its 130,000 employees.

And, as always, its people’s health and safety have been the top priority throughout. Here we take a closer look at how the Bouygues group and its subsidiaries - Bouygues Construction, Bouygues Immobilier, Colas, TF1 and Bouygues Telecom – have been coping with the situation.

By Laura Franchet, Isabelle Godar, Judy Hue, and Grâce Noyal.
worker portraits

SOLIDARITY-BASED PROFESSIONS

blury image of workers

Words of praise for Bouygues employees

portrait martin bouygues
portrait martin bouygues
portrait martin bouygues
As I often say, a company is a human endeavour first, rather than just about capital and technologies. This human endeavour must not disappear. On the contrary, we need to amplify it.
Martin Bouygues
Chairman and CEO of the Bouygues group
We are lucky because our businesses satisfy essential needs such as housing, transport, communication, information, and entertainment. Their fundamentals have not been undermined, and they are structurally capable of future growth. (…) Our Group is mainly a provider of services, so our employees’ dedication is crucial. And it’s clear that this is extremely strong. In all our businesses, they are eager to provide the best possible service. This is a strength we cultivate, including in our relations with employee representatives, and it is the most important one for weathering storms.
Olivier Roussat
Deputy CEO of the Bouygues group and Chairman of Bouygues Telecom and of Colas
I want to thank all the human resources departments and in particular the operational teams, which were on the front line. They have been the main intermediaries between management, staff and employee representatives. I have the feeling that they were always in the lead in dealing with this unprecedented situation, where we had to take steps and then backtrack continually. They explained and communicated during a stressful, period when some employees were frightened. They also had to be reassuring. Essentially, they showed that the company was there, even if we were all separated from each other. We remained ready for the possibility of a new outbreak and we showed that we are a strong Group based on ethical values.
Jean-Manuel Soussan
Senior Vice-President, Bouygues group Human Resources Director
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40K
litres of hand sanitiser produced in 4 weeks
200
litres of hand sanitiser produced by the plant were donated to a local Red Cross organisation
01
Gearing up to make hand sanitiser

In the midst of the health crisis, Aximum, the Colas subsidiary specialising road traffic safety and management, converted its workshops to make and distribute hand sanitiser. The Noyon site, just north of Paris, usually only produces white or colour paint, as well as cold paint marking coatings However, the production process requires ethanol, which is the main ingredient of hand sanitiser. Therefore, the plant’s laboratory manager, Romain Janssen, decided to modify a hand sanitiser formular to comply with the ministerial decree. “First we mixed the various ingredients to obtain the final product. Then we added another substance to prevent hand dryness.

And finally, we compared the viscosity of our gel with others found in pharmacies”. Following several laboratory tests, the formula was put into large-scale production in mid-April. To be able to distribute the hand sanitizer more quickly, they decided to work with local suppliers Louis Besse, a company located at Milly-sur-Thérain for the containers, and Edi Com Label, based at Longueil-Annel, for the labels.

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86
Covid-19 patients were treated in the hospital during the first wave, which included around 10 that were transferred from Paris via helicopter.
500
employees worked on Facility Management projects throughout the entire epidemic
02
Bouygues Construction (+Energies & Services) Fighting the virus, at the side of healthcare workers and patients

Teams from Bouygues Energies & Services who ensure the technical maintenance at several hospitals around France went quickly into action and reorganized to help healthcare workers manage the Covid-19 health crisis.

For example, at Caen-Normandie teaching hospital, where this Bouygues Construction subsidiary has been in charge of Hard FM services for the last 11 years, a number of actions were taken to ensure everything would be ready for the first wave of the epidemic. The air filters in the air handling unit were changed regularly, the ventilation system was transformed, staffing levels were reduced, PPE and hand sanitiser storage units were made secure and the triage process between the reception area, the helipad and the department dealing with the epidemic was adapted so that a lift was reserved for Covid-19 patients. An operating theatre reserved for C-section births and a birthing room were also adapted in order to treat infants infected with the virus. Before the health crisis, discussions took place between the subsidiary’s staff and the Medical Health Office relating to best practices, particularly on mask wearing.

workers opening lockers
53
editions of “Le Confiné Libéré” sent out to 39 residences around France
03
Watching over senior citizens during the pandemic

Les Jardins d’Arcadie, a joint venture between Bouygues Immobilier and Acapace, specialises in managing serviced residences for senior citizens. In one of them in Versailles, manager Aude Chapuis, along with her team, provided very strict but considerate support to residents during the first lockdown. They carried out these duties with a lot of dedication. “Starting at the end of February, we implemented safety measures such as systematic disinfection of lifts and doorknobs and the wearing of masks because I felt the epidemic was indeed a crisis and had to be taken seriously,” says Chapuis. Residents found themselves confined to their apartments and unable to receive the visits of friends and family. To eliminate any risk of spreading the virus, staff were divided into two teams, which were kept separate from each other. The services offered in the residence were maintained or adapted. This approach was rewarded with success, as no case of Covid-19 was reported at the residence.

Attention was also paid to the residents’ psychological well-being. “And oddly enough, social distancing brought us all closer together” said Félix Lecerf, a resident for six years. A daily newspaper called Le Confiné libéré (“locked down but free”) contained the latest news, advice, and personal accounts relating to the crisis. Management also focused attention on support staff by providing a counselling service.

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250k Euros
was collected, plus a donation of €50,000 from the Bouygues Telecom Foundation, for people in great hardship as a result of the first lockdown in spring 2020
04
Supporting each and every customer throughout the lockdown

With the boom in teleworking, on-line schooling, demand for entertainment and the need to stay in touch with family and friends...telecommunications usage exploded during the health crisis. Bouygues Telecom was on the front line, adapting its organisation and helping consumers and businesses deal with the unprecedented period. In practical terms, this meant keeping all its employees safe by making masks and hand sanitizer available. Next came ensuring that its network infrastruc¬tures had the capacity to cope with the heavy demand and thus continue to provide customers with uninterrupted service.

The support Bouygues Telecom provided its customers with throughout this crisis became crucial and is a perfect illustration of its new corporate slogan: We’re made to be together. The company also focused special attention on those on the front lines of the Covid-19 battle in hospitals, town halls and companies up and down the country by providing them with enhanced technical support and equipment free of charge. Bouygues Telecom did not forget its small and mid-sized suppliers either by paying their bills promptly rather than waiting for the legal due date, thus giving a lift to their cash flow.

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2,6M
million additional views in April versus March for the Marmiton website
7M
million viewers for Koh-Lanta, a 5-year record for the TV show
05
Keeping people entertained during the crisis

Television’s important social role was confirmed by the need to keep people informed and entertained during the crisis. In sometimes difficult conditions, TF1’s teams proved how inventive and dedicated they are, which was something very much appreciated by the viewing public. More than ever before, the TV channel’s duty to inform proved to be crucial. Transformed into “war reporters”, in the words of Chairman and CEO Gilles Pélisson, the group’s journalists told the story of this unprecedented crisis. Information also came through new media during the epidemic. Unify and its digital brands published a variety of content. LCI and Doctissimo developed a chatbot to answer people’s questions about the coronavirus and to combat fake news.

The Marmiton website launched the hashtag #EnsembleEnCuisine, where new recipes were posted each day, and live videos made by cooking enthusiasts appeared on Facebook. During the first lockdown, with filming on hold and advertising campaigns sharply curtailed, portions of the usual programming schedule were replaced with classic cinema. MyTF1, the VOD platform, was also a great success. Youth programming was bolstered and the TF1 group teamed up with French Ministry of Education to broadcast content related to the national school curriculum. A genuine multi-channel offering for all the family!

Jérémy Léon, Guy Lambert, Arnaud Février and Dominique Perrault