In contrast with a general feeling of worrying uncertainty caused by Covid-19, EuropeOn and its members opted for a positive outlook on the current situation, focusing on what can be done to improve business opportunities, recover in a green and digital way and up electrical contractors’ game. With 1.8 million professionals across Europe and 300.000 companies, electrical contractors are well placed to make a valuable contribution to recovery strategies.
This reflection was the starting point of our latest study, published on 26 January and titled “Business opportunities since Covid-19 Electrical contractors at the forefront of a green & digital recovery for Europe”.
On this occasion, EuropeOn also held an online launch event, to publicly present the main findings of the study. Our members from France (SERCE), Germany (ZVEH) and Norway (Nelfo), also joined to outline the business opportunities they are particularly exploring, respectively: Smart Building, Data services and Transport electrification.
When drafting this study, a first step was to identify some of the major preoccupations expressed by society since Covid-19. We singled out three priorities:
- mitigating climate change with a green recovery,
- improving indoor life quality,
- and transforming ways of working.
For each one of these priorities, electrical contractors can make a difference whilst expanding their business.
Mitigating climate change with a green recovery
Many recent polls show that ecological concerns have risen more than ever in 2020. Elections in several EU countries were characterised by a surge in “green” votes, while sales of electric cars, solar panels and energy-efficient heat-pumps have considerably increased. Many voices have echoed the need to “re-start” our economy on greener grounds.
Electrical contractors can address part of these preoccupations: they are trained to install and operate technologies such as solar panels, electric vehicles’ charging points, integrated battery storages or smart meters. As demonstrated by our Norwegian colleagues (see other news), electrical contractors are already playing a key role in decarbonising transport, even maritime transport, through direct electrification. The appeal for electrified transport is rising and, with it, many jobs can be created in the post-Covid economy.
Besides, shifting from a “product” to a “service” approach, electrical contractors are best positioned in the value chain to advise clients on a series of upgrades that they can do in homes and businesses to save energy, foster circularity, improve predictive maintenance and so on.
Improving indoor life quality
Successive lockdowns and curfews imply that we spend more time at home. Altogether, this situationexacerbated citizens’ need of “feeling good at home”: in order to work, study or simply stay at home in the most comfortable way, it is more than ever essential to rely on enough light, a good supply of energy, ventilation, heating and excellent connectivity. Upgrading one’s house can also be viewed as a safe investment in current times.
Here again, electrical contractors can bring value to their client by pro-actively presenting to them a wide range of solutions to upgrade their indoor life quality. It is also important to communicate to clients that electrical contractors know how to work under Covid rules, thanks to clear guidance.
Our French colleagues from SERCE are actively working on “Smart Buildings” which represent a textbook illustration of both green and digital innovations, from rainwater collection to solar energy, from optimised heating and cooling to electric car charging stations. Since Covid-19 another priority has been added to Smart Building projects: health safety. In order to enable workers and clients to come back in offices, malls, public buildings and so on, electrical contractors can propose contactless technologies (automatic lighting and heating systems, hands-free taps and toilets, automatic doors…) to mitigate contamination risks.
Transforming our ways of working
One of the obvious new trends is the fast digitalisation of working dynamics. Why does it matter to electrical contractors?
First, many electrical contractors are involved in fibre-optic and data installation. Connectivity is key for remote working. Furthermore, many prejudices against digitalisation have been vanquished and will convince clients to equip themselves with digital devices in offices or even at home.
Second, looking at electrical contractors’ businesses, they also had to take a leap and embrace digitalisation: using social networks to advertise their services, plan digital instead of face-to-face meetings with worksite partners, up-skill through e-learning are only a few examples.
Our German member ZVEH detailed this dual opportunity (digital as a business offer / as a working method) at our launch event. In terms of business offer, electrical contractors are developing new data services such as predictive maintenance (based on sensors and apps) and software updates. Regarding working methods, ZVEH has initiated an ambitious digital platform for the whole electro-technical value chain. This B2B platform would bring in one place all relevant actors to get better knowledge of new technologies’ installation and exchange ideas on new business models.
All in all, EuropeOn’s report showcases in detail 6 main areas of business opportunities for electrical contractors, with national and local examples. While we focused our reflection on positive opportunities, we also identified areas of vigilance (for example: shortages in the workforce, drop in new orders). Finally, we expressed a series of asks for policymakers to support a job-driven recovery.
With this report we hope to trigger a reflection on how electrical contractors can up their game, bounce back and play an active role in a green and digital recovery across Europe.