Back to the office? The HR checklist for returning to work

HRD breaks down the ‘dos and don’ts’ if you're planning on getting the team back into the work-place

Back to the office? The HR checklist for returning to work

Employers in Singapore can now bring more staffers back to the workplace, announced Minister Lawrence Wong.

However, this is subject to several conditions. In a press conference Wong also outlined the dos and don’ts of office activities amidst the pandemic.

Referring to findings from Singapore’s COVID-19 taskforce, he emphasised that working from home should “remain default or preferred mode of working”.

If you’re keen on getting the team back in the office, you have to ensure the following:

  1. Employees must continue to work from home for at least half of their total work hours.
  2. The workplace has to be capped at 50% capacity at all times. This means only half of the team can be back in the office.

To fulfil the second condition, Wong suggested enforcing split-team arrangements for employees.

We also call on employers to implement flexible work arrangements for their employees who are returning to work,” Wong said.

In particular, we would like employers to put in place arrangements for employees to be able to work partly at home and partly at the workplace. It doesn’t have to be such a binary arrangement. It can be a combination of both.”

Read more: Singapore to allow in-person industry events from October

Allowed: Work-related events
Barring existing safe management measures, the minister also announced that work-related events will now be allowed — and up to 50 people can attend. He revealed a non-exhaustive list of work events that can now resume at the workplace:

  • Conferences
  • Seminars
  • Promotion ceremonies
  • Induction ceremonies for new staff
  • Corporate retreats or meetings

Of course, these continue to be subject to prevailing safe management measures at the workplaces, such as safe distancing, and the mandatory wearing of masks.

He made clear however, that social gatherings are still not allowed for the time being. This could mean anything from celebrations, team bonding events, or company gala dinners.

“Larger scale social gatherings should not be organised either within the workplace or outside — these are existing guidelines and they remain the same,” Wong said.

The Ministry of Manpower will reveal a more detailed guideline in time, he added.

Read more: MOM reveals checklist for businesses to resume operations

Safe management measures must remain
Additionally, he reiterated that all current COVID-19 safety measures must remain in place.

For one, he urged employers to ensure that staff limited time spent at common spaces at the workplace. He also sought the cooperation of employers to help minimise crowds, especially on public transport. Peak hour travel in Singapore has always been crowded — on the trains as well as buses.

Hence, similar to advice from the Ministry of Health, Wong suggested that employers allow staff to travel outside of peak hours. For instance, employers can assign time slots for employees returning to the office, with part of their day spent working from home.

“We would also like to emphasise the need for everyone to continue to stay vigilant and to do their part in complying with all the prevailing safe distancing and safe management measures,” he said.

“Everyone needs to take the safe management measures seriously, be it at workplaces or in the community. Continue to apply and uphold these measures.

“If we can continue to maintain this level of compliance and continue to control the infection well, then we will be able to continue with this path of resuming and opening up our economy and our society steadily.”

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