From home to the office – getting back to work

The easing of Work From Home requirements will present new challenges for organisations

On March 24, Singapore announced that its Work From Home (WFH) requirements will be eased, allowing more office workers to return to the office in early April. While Malaysia, Hong Kong and other Asian nations still have restrictions in place, as vaccinations increase and COVID-19 cases drop, it is likely that other countries will follow Singapore in removing restrictions.

2021 should see a gradual return to the office for many employees in the region. While much has been written about the WFH trend and how this may become permanent, the likelihood is a majority of employees will choose to return to the office, or at least move towards a hybrid work arrangement.

As employees move back into the office from over 12 months of working from home, there will inevitably be some adjustments. Processes will have to be reviewed, working hours adjusted and mindsets new procedures will need to be put in place. Here are three areas employers should think about as they start welcoming their employees back to the office:

  • Safety first – while COVID-19 cases may be lower, there is a high expectation of health and hygiene and employers will need to respond to this. New sanitisation and deep cleaning protocols should be established and the layout of workplaces rearranged to ensure a degree of social distancing. Even though it may be perfectly legal in the future for all employees to return to work, employers should still consider staggered employee schedules. Employers should also establish rules surrounding employees who do contract COVID-19 or who were exposed to it.
  • Slowly does it – employers should, initially at least, only ask certain groups of employees back to the office. Certain job roles, such as sales teams or those in a relationship role who require face-to-face contact, should be prioritised. Other roles, especially those who have maintained their productivity while working from home, should return at a later stage. This staggered approach also gives companies the chance to implement and fine-tune new health and safety procedures.
  • Reduce disruption – the past 12 months has been a difficult time for employees. In early 2020 many were suddenly required to work from home – something many had never done before. This sudden change in routine often led to higher stress, longer working hours and uncertainty. Over time employees have adapted to this ‘new normal’ and have established their own new routines, so suddenly demanding all employees return to the office will similarly result in disruption. Employers need to be sensitive of this and ensure employee buy in as much as possible in their move back to the office.

It is undoubtedly good news that we are beginning to return to normal and we can see our colleagues again in the office. The past 12 months have been hard on many employees and employers, yet both have remained adaptable and productive. However, this period of returning to work should be approached carefully and with caution if it is to be a success.

For more information and guidance, contact Alpadis Group

Image Credit: MicroBizMag