Coronavirus: Business continuity plans kick in for companies following code orange alert

People queuing up to get their temperatures checked at One Raffles Place on Feb 10, 2020.
People queuing up to get their temperatures checked at One Raffles Place on Feb 10, 2020.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Business continuity measures have started to kick in for employees returning to work on Monday (Feb 10) following the Singapore Government's decision to elevate the island's novel coronavirus outbreak response to code orange last Friday.

These include getting employees to work from split sites, from home and on split shifts, with organisations in critical services sectors implementing the strictest measures.

United Overseas Bank (UOB), for one, has activated its business continuity plans for all critical operations, including technology, contact centre, and trading and treasury.

"This will ensure all banking services remain operational and secure," the bank said in a statement on Monday.

The split sites are distributed across the bank's five buildings in Singapore. The bank also operates more than 60 branches here.

Individual contact centre teams will also be much smaller in size as part of enhanced measures although they will be split into many more separate teams.

The bank has also turned to video-conferencing technologies for meetings to minimise the risk of infection across teams and premises.

Similarly, all large-scale internal meetings such as training, seminars and workshops have been cancelled.

Marketing communications agency Splash Productions has also split its workforce into two groups, with one based in the office.

 
 
 

The second team of employees, who are allowed to work from their homes, are issued with laptops.

Internal meetings are held using video-conferencing apps.

"Given the current situation, we have also encouraged staff to have project meetings with clients through teleconferencing instead," said Mr Stanley Yap Sian Tiong, creative director of Splash.

The set-up does not inconvenience staff much as they are already used to the firm's Internet-based call facilities.

Its current Internet telephony system comes with a mobile app that allows staff to receive office calls remotely.

Some small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) here may not have the luxury of allowing a split team system.

Locally based optical products maker Moveon Technologies is already running "a very tight ship", said its chief executive officer and founder, Mr Chee Teck Lee.

Its factory in Kaki Bukit has about 80 workers rushing to meet delivery deadlines, and is operating at full capacity.

"It didn't help that we have asked our workers based in China not to come back during this time," said Mr Chee, adding that he even had to hire part-time workers to make up for the manpower shortfall.

Code orange alert indicates a moderate to high public health impact.