Firms putting in more safe distancing measures | June 07, 2020 5:00 AMWalking into his office at Marina One, Mr Erwin Peter is greeted daily by a temperature-taking robot.

Firms putting in more safe distancing measures

Firms putting in more safe distancing measures

Firms putting in more safe distancing measures

Firms putting in more safe distancing measures

Firms putting in more safe distancing measures

Firms putting in more safe distancing measures
Firms putting in more safe distancing measures
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Walking into his office at Marina One, Mr Erwin Peter is greeted daily by a temperature-taking robot.

Mr Peter, 41, head of customer service at insurance company Prudential, returned to his office on Tuesday when the circuit breaker has ended, as the firm had reopened its customer service centre at Marina One. There are now more safe distancing measures in place.

Previously, he would have to get close to a security guard to scan his temperature. Now, the robot makes it worry-free.

Customer service staff now wear face masks, face shields as well as gloves when speaking to customers, and are seated a counter apart.

To minimise the risk of infection, Prudential provides meals and allows staff to claim for transport. Mr Peter has been using Grab to commute to and from work.

Mr Peter said he is not worried about going back to the office.

"We have taken all these measures which I know safeguards our team. The only concern we had was that there would be a sudden influx of customers since we are now re-opening the centre, but so far, 90 to 95 per cent of our customers have listened (to advice and) made appointments before coming in," he added.

Mr Sampath Kumar, 46, a quality manager at sensor manufacturer Moveon Technologies, also returned to his office last Tuesday.

Before doing so, the firm went through a checklist from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to ensure that safe distancing measures were in place, including adding sanitisers next to fingerprint scanners.

Work hours are staggered, with not more than 30 per cent of staff reporting to work at the same time.

Like Prudential, Moveon has also marked out areas to ensure that employees keep a safe distance apart.

Mr Kumar said that for lunch, each team now sends one person to buy food for the rest, or order food in.

Even though more people are now back in Moveon's office in Kaki Bukit, morning meetings are still held virtually, with each person at his own work area.

"So far in the last few days, the measures have been very effective. It's a new norm that we are all adapting to, every day," he said.

Law firm Dentons Rodyk has had 10 per cent of its staff back in office since Tuesday. Among them are receptionists, court clerks and IT and mailroom personnel, whose tasks cannot be done remotely.

There are two teams that alternate between working from home and the office every five work days, and all five floors of the office are deep-cleaned before the swop.

The firm has told those who are more vulnerable, such as the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions, not to return to the office.

The firm's global vice-chair and Asean chief executive Philip Jeyaretnam, who is also a senior counsel, said: "(Employees) are reminded to limit the time spent in the office. They simply complete their tasks in the office and go home."

While most workplaces have done their due diligence before allowing workers to return, some have not. Last Wednesday, MOM said three workplaces were forced to stop operations for failing to implement adequate safe management measures.

Mr Silas Sng, divisional director of the occupational safety and health division at MOM, said during the first week of inspections, MOM observed that most people adhered to requirements for safe management measures at workplaces.

But the ministry continues to receive feedback from whistle-blowers who were instructed by employers to return to the office despite being able to work from home.

"Some employers thought that as long as they allowed some employees to work from home, they would have met the legal requirement.

"This is incorrect. Employers must evaluate if indeed the work cannot be done from home, then they can ask the employees to return to office," said Mr Sng, urging all employers and employees to take working from home and safe management measures seriously.

As the economy gradually opens up post-circuit breaker, more are expected to be out in public spaces.

A Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) spokesman said about 3,000 safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers are deployed daily. The plan is to maintain daily deployment at current levels, and adjust deployment numbers depending on the ground situation.

She added that MEWR has been observing a general decline in the number of people fined for breaching safe distancing and not wearing masks since measures were introduced in April, as most understand the importance of these measures.

"However, there is still a minority of people who have not adhered to the measures. More than 70 per cent of the fines issued between June 2 and 5 by our enforcement officers were for flouting of safe distancing measures," said the spokesman.

These included people caught fishing illegally under a bridge at Geylang River, loitering outside their homes, and gathering with individuals from other households in parks.

She added: "These (safe distancing measures) remain important as long as there remains a risk of resurgence in community transmission. Everyone should continue to leave home only for essential activities, and should wear a mask when doing so."

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