Coronavirus pandemic

Companies to maintain status quo on working from home for now

Big companies will also still have their staff telecommute during phase two. PHOTO: ST FILE

Companies said they will continue with work-from-home arrangements throughout phase two. Split-team arrangements and other precautions will also continue to be taken when offices allow staff back.

Human resource and recruitment firm AYP Group said its 30 staff will still be working from home, at least until next month.

General manager Jolin Nguyen said: "The past 12 weeks of working from home have just proven that we are just as efficient as working in the office."

Architecture and design firm Blink Design Group said its 22 staff will still work from home, as the team has adapted well to it. Managing partner Rengy John said: "Our quality of design and productivity levels have not dropped. More importantly, we want to reduce any risk of exposure to (the coronavirus)."

Financial tech firm MatchMove said working from home might also continue in the new normal. Ms Nicole Poon, its senior vice-president of business operations, partnerships and strategic initiatives, said: "As we embrace a new work normal, MatchMove is leveraging collaborative tools to actively engage our employees to ensure work can continue seamlessly from office and homes."

Big companies, such as professional services firm KPMG in Singapore, will also still have their staff telecommute during phase two. Ms Ang Fung Fung, KPMG Singapore partner and head of people, said: "We do foresee continuing this... until our staff can safely work in the office in larger numbers and at the direction of the multi-ministry task force recommendations." This will cover some 3,000 workers.

"Staff are to go into the office or clients' premises only when absolutely necessary and where (the work) cannot be done via telecommuting," she said.

Meanwhile, other companies that require some staff to work on their premises are still allowing the rest to telecommute.

Income chief executive officer Andrew Yeo said: "As Singapore gradually exited the circuit breaker, we have had more staff in critical functions, such as policy servicing and claims processing, return to work on premises to enhance productivity, while about 90 per cent of our 1,800 staff continued to work from home."

He said that as more customer service activities resume with the opening of more branches, the majority of staff who do not have to fulfil such roles in-person will still work from home.

OCBC Bank's head of group corporate security Francisco John Celio said the firm will take a phased approach to having more on-site staff from Friday to support the expected increase in economic activities safely.

Staff returning to the office will be those in customer-facing, operations and risk functions who are helping with the Covid-19 relief measures for individuals and companies, for instance.

Smart sanitary solutions company Rigel, which operates as an essential service, has been allowing less than 20 per cent of staff to return to the workplace during the circuit breaker. This rose to about 30 per cent this month.

"The rest of the staff are all working full-force from home... Zoom has been set up to facilitate work-from-home arrangements and we've found it quite effective thus far. We were able to hold meetings, discussions remotely and we can still manage to be productive," said Ms Carrie Tan, the firm's group director of corporate development and human resources. She added that staff returning to the workplace have to follow safe management measures like going to work at staggered hours and on staggered days.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2020, with the headline Companies to maintain status quo on working from home for now. Subscribe