As of March 31, 2020, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has officially announced that penalties will be provided to firms who fail to allow employees to telecommute during this COVID-19 season. According to news sources, potential penalties range from fines to stop-work notice orders.
Telecommuting is an important aspect of safe distancing. To date, only 40% of organizations in Singapore’s CBD allow its employees to work from home. However, MOM is putting stringent measures, including office spot checks, to ensure that employers are accommodating to the latest telecommuting guidelines.
This news might come as a shock to organizations that have previously failed to come up with a fool-proof telecommuting plan. However, as an HR outsourcing agency in Singapore, we believe it is part of our duty to help out. Below, we’ve listed a quick telecommuting checklist for employers and HR executives to take note of in Singapore:
1. Inform Teams That Can Work From Home
According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), these employees should be working from home:
Vulnerable employees: Those with underlying medical and health issues as well as older and pregnant employees.
Positions that can be performed by employees remotely: Most positions can be done remotely. However, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) understands that jobs in frontline operations, construction work, and factory plant positions will be hard to be done from home. Employers in these industries can consider deploying employees in staggered shifts to promote social distancing.
2. Determine if the Employee’s Home is Suitable for Telework
Once you’ve identified and isolated the employee’s responsibilities. It’s time to determine if the employee’s home is suitable for telecommuting. Ask your employee if their home system has any of the following:
Additionally, you’ll need to determine if the employees will be permitted to use their personal devices and/or home computers for business purposes. Don’t forget to:
Figure out if additional hardware needs to be purchased. You’ll need to identify the budget needed and the timeline required to purchase the required devices.
Consider giving your employees remote access to their work computers. This allows your employees to access their work desktop from the comfort and safety of your worker’s home. As employers, you might need to coordinate with the IT department to install the required software.
3. Ensure the Safety of the Employee’s Old Worksite
Anything can happen when an employee is away from their desk for extended periods of time. Provide the employee with a list to go through on their last day to ensure that their office space is safe before leaving. The checklist should include:
Desks are clear of potentially flammable items.
Organize storage to minimize risks of fire as well as spontaneous office combustion.
Exposed and frayed wires have been removed and/or replaced. Additionally, unused extension cords should be stored.
Surge protectors are used for computers and other electrical office devices (i.e. printers). Alternatively, office devices and computers that are not in use should be turned off and unplugged.
Computer parts are kept away from heated and cramped spaces, as well as direct sunlight.
Fire extinguishers are accessible when needed.
4. Develop and Implement Cybersecurity Guidelines for Employees to Follow
COVID-19 has not only turned our lives upside down. It has also turned our corporate lives upside down. Unfortunately, with the rising number of employees working-from-home, there is a higher risk for cyber breaches to occur outside the workplace.
Some suggestions employers and HR executives in Singapore to make companies more aware include:
Encourage remote workers to use a private VPN. A VPN connection allows communication to be encrypted and prevents cybercriminals and hackers from intercepting them. In addition, advise employees against using shared wifi (e.g. free public wifi) when working from home. This reduces the risk of a breach.
Encourage strong passwords and careful password habits. Your password is the first line of defense against potential cyber breaches. According to a cybersecurity outsourcing firm, A Very Normal Company, employees should have different passwords for access to different websites. Other useful password protection tips include: encouraging long and complicated passwords, consider the use of 2FA authentication, as well as utilizing a password manager.
Learn more about ideal password protection habits with A Very Normal Company here.
Limit access to company data. Larger access leads to a higher risk of cyber breaches, especially during Singapore’s current work-from-home season. As a HR executive in Singapore or an employer, you’ll need to determine if your employee requires access to which company data (i.e. email, websites, social networking websites).
Identify the important points of contact. You need to designate a point of contact within the IT department. This allows your employees to directly contact a staff member of the IT department, should anything go wrong.
Consider cyber insurance: If all else fails, cyber insurance is one way to recover an expensive cyber breach.
5. Come Up with a Telecommuting Policy
Even though HR executives and employers in Singapore should trust their employees. It is always a good idea to have some policies and rules in place. Unfortunately, there’s always room for abuse, despite this trying COVID-19 season.
Set a telecommuting policy to remind your staff working from home to:
Fulfill their daily duties and responsibilities.
Breaks during work still apply (i.e. lunch breaks). As a responsible HR executive, you should also remind your Singaporean employees working from home of different ways to unwind and sane despite being isolated.
Encourage employees to communicate their duties and whereabouts for the day with the team. Supervisors should also keep track of their employees’ weekly KPI targets.
Request employees to communicate personal needs, such as potential absences
Pro-Tip: One way to eliminate potential abuse during this telecommuting period is by measuring the rate of productivity through weekly KPI. In addition, holding everyone in the team, from supervisors to entry-level workers accountable for their results is a good way to motivate and prevent potential time abuse.
Is your organization ready to handle a high number of telecommuting employees? Let us know in the comments section below! Don’t forget to check out these work-from-home and telecommuting articles in Singapore listed below: