The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has released a comprehensive list of what it requires of reopening businesses — while some measures may seem drastic, we must keep in mind that if we do not take every precaution necessary, we face the very real risk of regressing back to stricter protocols.
We take a big picture look at what the MOM asks of reopening businesses, and what your HR Department or appointed Safe Management Officers can do to keep your business operational, while keeping your returning employees assured that the company has done what is necessary to keep the workplace safe.
Appoint a Safe Management Officer
MOM has made it mandatory for businesses to appoint a Safe Management Officer (SMO) to implement and coordinate the transition back to work. An SMO will assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of Safe Management Measures.
The duties of an SMO include:
Coordinate the implementation of Safe Management Measures to identify risks areas, recommend measures to mitigate the risks and help in implementing the relevant measures. Do a company wide blast to employees to communicate the measures taken.
Conduct inspections and checks to make sure that safety measures implemented are complied with all the time. There should be a policy to escalate the reporting of all non-compliance.
Remedy non-compliance immediately.
Keep records of inspections, checks and corrective actions and such records must be made available upon request by a Government Inspector.
Hire a reputable cleaning service to thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces in the workplace. It will refresh the environment and give your staff peace of mind, as well as a baseline for future cleanliness. Daily cleaning at least twice a day, with disinfectant should now include all common places and high touch point surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, tables, computers, mouse, telephone, handles, reception waiting areas and items in the pantry etc.. All door knobs, taps (if not touch-free) and lift buttons should be cleaned with a self-disinfecting coating. Each desk could have a disposable paper placemat that is replaced daily. Sanitizers should be readily available at common places like photostating machines, pantry, reception areas.
Remind Employees of Safety Measures via Signages
This ‘new norm’ might take a while to become second nature, so it’s important to put signs up around the workplace to remind people to clean their hands, wear face masks, keep personal distance, avoid face-to-face conversations with colleagues, and avoid handshakes etc. Signages should include images to remind colleagues to greet each other in the form of a thumbs up, palms pressed together in prayer form – like a Thai greeting.
Continue with Flexible Working Conditions
If possible, continue with flexible working arrangements such as staggered work hours or work-from-home which you have developed during the circuit breaker period. Telecommuting must continue to be part of the company’s policy for workers who do not need to access specialised systems/equipment that can only be operated in the office. If the name of the game is to keep as much distance as possible between employees, you should only have fewer people in the workplace overall.
Change Your Seating Plan
If you are able to have fewer people in the workplace thanks to remote working, remove as many desks/seats as required to make sure there is one metre of distance or more between each employee.
Set up a Teleconference Instead of an In Person Meeting
Even more relevant now than pre-Coronavirus, it is rather pointless setting up an in-person meeting when you can get just as much done digitally. Not only does an in-person meeting require more time, it also increases the risk of infection. This can be done for all levels of staff, for example InCorp offers a Virtual AGM tool to save time, money, and health. Meeting rooms should also be closed during this period.
Let the Fresh Air In
While this may not be possible in all Singapore workplaces, the simple act of opening some windows will help to ventilate the area and reduce the chances of the Coronavirus settling on surfaces. If open windows are simply not a possibility, you might also consider air filtration technology to help keep the air clean.
Keep an Eye on Morale
Things in the workplace will be very different for a range of reasons, but perhaps none more pronounced than many employees not seeing their colleagues come back to work. This will be a sensitive time in that regard, so make sure each manager keeps close tabs on the morale of their teams.
We wrote an article on How to Make Employees Happy Working From Home During COVID-19, which has many points that will still be relevant in the workplace post- circuit breaker period.
Review Your Infrastructure Requirements
A business can be given any number of pointers as to how to adjust to this new working paradigm, but each organisation will have different needs that come out of the woodwork once the workplace is back to operational.
Once things have settled down (as best they can), have each department review its operations and infrastructure. Things like communication, collaboration, and technology will all have been used differently post-circuit breaker, and there will always be ways to optimise things for the new norm. Talk to a trusted business advisory service to see how they can help create new opportunities in these new times.
HR policy should be updated to include flexi work arrangements for permanent, part-timers and contract staff. New policies including not coming to work when one is not feeling well, restrictions on meeting clients and travel declarations should be stated clearly and communicated to all employees.
Conclusion — Where to Next for the Return to the Workplace
There is a lot to take care of for the shift back to the workplace post-circuit breaker — you can check out specifically what MOM requires of businesses here. Looking forward though, we have all implemented so many systems to work around the Coronavirus, it would be a shame to just throw them to the wayside. By updating and evolving our businesses to work post COVID-19 and beyond, we are not just staying viable in the present, we are future-proofing for tomorrow.
If you have any questions about how you can adjust your business post-circuit breaker, Rikvin has a large team of experts who can do just that — so please do contact us, it’s both our job and pleasure to assist.
There may also be a number of new appointments you need to make to help keep things running smoothly in this new environment and at the same time you face costs considerations in this pandemic. You may explore In.Corp Outsourcing services to access resources quickly and reasonable costs to serve your objectives.
Employers and employees can now return to work gradually post circuit breaker.
Let us help you manage the return of your employees to the workplace safely and smoothly.