Preventing potential spread of virus in workplaces

1 Closing off or reducing capacity in common areas

Employees are discouraged from gathering in common areas within the office.

For example, Great Eastern is closing off most of its conference rooms, and is leaving only a handful of the largest rooms open for meetings that cannot be conducted virtually.

These rooms typically hold about 15 to 20 people, but the number of people allowed in the rooms during phase one will be capped at six, said Mr James Lee, managing director for group human capital at Great Eastern.

Medical device manufacturer Racer Technology has removed some chairs from its meeting room and set up partitions, decreasing the maximum capacity in the room, to make sure that safe distancing is kept to.


2 Stepping up cleaning measures

Medical device firm Racer Technology now employs a full-time cleaner instead of a part-time one, and all employees are reminded to disinfect the meeting room each time before it is used.

At precision manufacturer Akribis Systems, employees are rostered for cleaning duties within their work units, while the cleaning staff take charge of sanitising the main office areas.

Employers like Citi and DBS Bank are also ramping up cleaning and safety measures on-site, even if they are not increasing the number of employees working on their premises significantly in phase one.

High-touch areas such as door handles, card readers and lift buttons are disinfected every two hours and separate bins are designated for the disposal of face masks at DBS' offices. Disinfectant sprays are also placed in meeting rooms.

At Citi's offices, sdst, a self-disinfecting coating, has been applied to all door handles and lift buttons. Hand sanitisers and disinfecting wipes are also provided for staff in addition to increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitising.


3 Offering food delivery,

pooling food orders Moveon Technologies, a sensor manufacturer, has arranged for meals for its employees to be delivered through third-party platforms or delivery apps. Its employees are not allowed to go out to buy food during their lunch break, to reduce the risk of contamination from public areas like coffee shops, said chief executive Chee Teck Lee.

Insurance company Prudential also provides lunch for its employees working in the office and customer service centre so they do not need to travel for meals.

At Akribis Systems, employees are encouraged to pool their food orders so that one person can buy lunch for colleagues in the same work unit.


4 Reconfiguration of work spaces

Hot-desking, a trend among modern offices, has been suspended in most workplaces.

Precision manufacturing firm Akribis Systems, which revamped its office and introduced hot-desking last August, will be reverting to a fixed-desk system from Tuesday when more employees return to the office. Employees from its main office space have now been split to work in three smaller areas.

Citi's limited hot-desking seats have been discontinued, and the company is rearranging workstations to be at least 2m apart.

With about 88 per cent of its staff working from home, every other desk will be left unoccupied as part of the new office layout, said Mr Abhijit Kumta, head of operations and technology for Asean and Singapore at Citi.

At co-working space JustCo, chairs have been removed from some hot desks, and furniture at communal areas has also been rearranged.

Choo Yun Ting