UOB has appointed and trained 200 of its employees as safe management officers as part of its plans to keep staff safe as they return to the office in Singapore. The officers are tasked to “ensure that those colleagues in the office adhere strictly to safe management measures such as wearing a mask at all times and observing safe distancing at all times”, Dean Tong, head of group human resources at UOB, told us.
Mask wearing is compulsory in Singapore workplaces. From Monday, the Singapore government is allowing more employees who can work from home to opt to return to the office under certain conditions, including a requirement to work remotely at least half of the time.
About 50% of UOB’s staff have returned to work in office premises and branches, says Tong. “For our people who are in the office, we continue to maintain flexible work hours such as through staggered work hours and rosters to minimise the need for our people to travel during the peak hour commute and to limit the number of employees in a single location at any one time,” he adds.
As more employees look set to return to their desks, UOB is stepping up its “precautionary and protective measures”, says Tong. These include placing safe distancing markers in offices, meeting rooms, lifts and common areas (to ensure at least one metre of space between each person), increasing the frequency of cleaning, and providing employees with “disinfectant kits” to clean their immediate workspaces.
Tong says developing policies to deal with the pandemic is an ongoing process. Over the past few months, for example, UOB has organised virtual townhalls so that its senior leaders can engage with employees.
“As we define what the new working normal will be, we are taking in the learnings of the past few months and deep diving into a myriad of business and people considerations, such as customer expectations, business continuity management, risk management and performance management. This will enable us to identify and to determine the types of programmes, policies and processes we may need to modify or to put in place to enable our people to work effectively and productively, regardless of their location,” he says.
Even after the pandemic subsides, aspects of remote working at UOB are likely to become permanent, says Tong. “We are testing scenarios in which more of our people will be able to work remotely as part of our flexible work arrangements. Of course, for some roles this will not be possible given the need to access secure systems or to serve customers in person, but this is how we are seeing the future and are preparing for it now,” he adds. “The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the transformation of work. One of the things we have told our people is that working in the office 100% of the time will be a thing of the past for most of us.”
Photo by Noah on Unsplash
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