We have now been living with COVID-19 for the most part of the last 2 years and it looks like things are slowly getting back to normal, well the new normal that is.  During the peak of the pandemic, many firms were forced to shut down or work remotely.   Now that we are all gradually heading back to the office, what are some of the key things we should be aware of?

 

Updated 25th March 2022

 

Workplace safety measures

 

The workplace is one of the most common places for COVID-19 to spread.  Hence there are several measures and operational procedures that must be put in place.

 

Vaccination

 

As of 19 December 2021, 80% of firms in Singapore have attained 100% vaccine coverage for their workforce. 98% of the total workforce across the island has been vaccinated.  To facilitate a safe workplace, MOM has announced the following:

 

Phase 1 (1 January 2022 to 14 January 2022):

 

Employees who are fully vaccinated, certified to be medically ineligible, or have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days, can return to the workplace.

Unvaccinated employees will be allowed back into the workplace if they have a negative Pre-Event Testing (PET) result. The PET negative result must be valid for the duration that employees are required to be present at the workplace.  The cost of PET will be borne by unvaccinated employees themselves.

 

Phase 2 (15 January 2022 onwards):

 

Only employees who are fully vaccinated, certified to be medically ineligible, or have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days, can return to the workplace.

Partially vaccinated employees will still be allowed at workplaces with a negative PET after which they must be fully vaccinated by 31 January 2022.

Unvaccinated employees will no longer be allowed to enter the workplace.

 

Please refer to further details on the MOM website.

 

Office capacity

 

To help team members with easing back into the office, from March 29th, 2022, up to 75% of your employees who can work from home can now return to the office. 

 

In-office arrangement

 

For team members who are physically on-site, they must:

  • Wear masks at all times (except during activities that require masks to be removed e.g., eating or drinking)
  • Safe distancing is not required for mask-on settings. For mask-off settings (e.g. canteen), there must be one meter between each group of up to 5 persons. 
  • Social gatherings at the workplace must be limited to the prevailing group size of 5 persons.

 

Other workplace requirements

 

  • All team members and office visitors are required to use TraceTogether-only SafeEntry to record the entry personnel.
  • Common spaces and touchpoints are required to be cleaned regularly in accordance with NEA’s advisory.
  • Increase ventilation where possible. Either by opening windows or doors, or by installing a ventilation system.   It is recommended that workplace CO2 levels be kept within 800 parts per million (ppm).

 

Schedule target date for return to the office

 

Now that we know what needs to be done to get your office ready for your team to return, it is time to create a plan to see when it is feasible for your team to return to the office safely and at the same time be in compliance with MOM guidelines. 

 

Revise the return schedule and communicate promptly

 

Revise a plan on how you plan to bring your team back into the office.  This could be a flexible arrangement where different teams are scheduled to be in the office on a different days.   You may also need to consider easing your team back into the office.  Possibly start with just a couple of days a week and work upwards from there.  Or if you feel that working remotely works well for your organisation, there is no reason to stop.  It is all about a good balance between your team’s personal and company’s needs.

 

Communicate return to office plan

 

Once the plan is confirmed, ensure you communicate to your team promptly of the schedule.  Do assign a designated person/team to support the transition.  Your business should also provide as much lead time as possible to allow your team members’ a safe and organised return to the office with minimal business disruption.

 

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