THE Ayala group is evaluating its business practices to adjust to the new normal after the lockdown, as it tallied P5.5 billion in total contributions to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a letter to the Ayala community, brothers Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel de Ayala said the company is approaching the pandemic with an enlightened outlook for the urgent need to adjust to the fast-changing times.

After spending billions in employee support, business operations waivers and monetary and in-kind donations as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, Ayala Corp. (AC) said it is now keeping its eyes on the potential of digital infrastructure and a re-thinking of the workplace once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted.

Part of the Ayala group are Ayala Land, Inc.; Globe Telecom, Inc.; Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI); AC Energy, Inc.; Manila Water Co., Inc.; AC Industrials; and Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Inc. (AC Health), among others.

The brothers said the pandemic has shown the potential of digital platforms operated by its different units, like BPI’s mobile banking, Globe’s GCash, and AC Health’s KonsultaMD, Aide and MedGrocer.

“There are many such examples across the group — we have witnessed the adoption and growth of these platforms at unprecedented rates,” they said. “We are reminded of the potential of digital infrastructure — and have witnessed our investments in digital transformation paying forward.”

They also said they are now evaluating how flexible work environments can increase productivity, given the wide-scale implementation of a work-from-home scheme for the majority of its over 56,500 permanent employees.

“Our business units are devoting a significant amount of time to building out a revised playbook — considering what aspects of our previous business model may be at risk, and the ways in which we can take advantage of opportunities that have arisen,” they said.

“In conclusion, we are learning through this crisis and adjusting to new realities… We view ourselves as one component of many efforts — both singly and collectively,” they said.

AC is the country’s oldest conglomerate with a net income of P35.28 billion in 2019. Its businesses span across real estate, banking, telecommunications, water, electronics manufacturing, and healthcare, among others.

Shares in AC at the stock exchange gained P18 or 3.13% to P593 each on Wednesday. — Denise A. Valdez