As the first measures to ease Monaco out of lockdown begin, the Principality will also see businesses opening their doors once again. However, employees will have to learn to work in an economy weakened by the health crisis while we wait for a longer-lasting solution to combat Covid-19.
Despite the apparent calm in the streets, this lockdown period heralds a complex future for businesses. Certain economic difficulties have already appeared in recent weeks. Some private sector employees will soon return to work – but which ones? What challenges will they face?
Private sector workers in Monaco
According to IMSEE data, 53,091 people work in the private sector as of December 2019 in the Principality. This number has increased since 2018. Currently, most workers commute into the Principality, and men make up 60% of this workforce.
The vast majority of these employees are French nationals and work in companies in the service industry which dominates the employment market. More than 40,000 people work in Monaco do not live within the Principality’s limits.
Jobs in science and technology as well as administrative and support roles account for 23% of employees, where there is a moderately wide disparity between men and women. At the end of 2019, almost twice as many men were working in these sectors.
The hotel and catering sector closely follows in terms of the number of workers. Economists expect this will undoubtedly be the industry to suffer the most severe loss.
“It’s a bit slower because of my internet speed”
Bruno is a heating and ventilation engineer for a large service company that carries out maintenance and building work in Monaco. He is part of the many commuters travelling into Monaco for work. Currently, he is confined to his home in Nice. “The company was able to create access to the local server for everyone during lockdown to work as if we were in the office. From home I can work normally, but it’s a bit slower because of my internet speed,” he says.
Communication platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, can help some employees to continue working with relative ease. At home, Bruno can still provide safety and Covid-19 prevention training for workers preparing to return to construction sites. “Since yesterday, there has been one of our teams on the ground,” he explains. “As we are a plumbing service provider, we don’t want to hinder progress too much. We have put all the necessary procedures in place. This is our test site and the first to restart.”
“We are stuck with a difficult choice”
The question facing many French residents working in Monaco is when they can return to the office. Indeed, the first steps towards ending lockdown will not be taken at the same time in France and in the Principality. “The question was asked because Prince Albert had announced the end of the lockdown a little before the French State,” says Bruno. “In my situation, we are stuck with a difficult choice. We agreed to bring employees back gradually. Those whose physical presence is vital will go back first. Those, like me, who can continue to work from home will go back on May 11th.”
“It is impossible to measure the impact of the virus”
While the solution seems fixed, Bruno remains clear about the difficulties that will follow this unprecedented health crisis, particularly for the construction sector. According to the engineer, prevention measures will be mandatory to prevent the spread of the virus amongst workers, until a vaccine is developed. This leads to a very different working day as well as hours that need to be reconsidered entirely.
“On top of that, there will be the overall economic impact,” he concludes. “We know that, in Monaco, a large part of the economy depends on tourism, gambling and the hotel business. These are sectors that are completely at a standstill and will remain so for a while. The recovery will be prolonged, and for the moment, it is impossible to measure the impact of the virus.”