SINGAPORE: Working from home must be embraced as the new normal even as the country’s “circuit breaker” is eased gradually from next month, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Saturday (May 23) as he urged employers to adjust their mindsets.
Singapore will exit its circuit breaker period as planned on Jun 1, with measures to be progressively lifted in three phases. Under the first phase, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks will be allowed to open but authorities have stressed that telecommuting must be used to the “maximum extent”.
Some requirements have been put in place. For instance, employees should only return to work if they need specialised equipment and machinery that cannot be accessed from home, or if they need to fulfil legal requirements such as to complete contracts or transactions.
READ: Transition to a 'new normal' after circuit breaker: How will measures be lifted beyond Phase 1?
“On that basis, we expect most employees working in an office setting to continue working from home as they are presently doing,” said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the COVID-19 outbreak.
Many employers and managers will need to adjust their mindsets to embrace this new normal, the minister added.
“It’s no longer about having all your staff physically present at work. Even if they have to be on site, consider if they really need to do so every day,” he said, noting that “hybrid arrangements” could be made for employees to work from home for a few days in a week.
As for those who have to be in the office, employers must make sure that the work environment is safe by maintaining good ventilation and high hygiene standards. Employers can also put in place staggered work hours, he said.
“All these workplace measures are critical in our fight against COVID-19,” Mr Wong wrote. “They will reduce the need for daily movement of people, and minimise the risks of the virus flaring up again.”