Education Secretary Lawrence Wong, who chairs the state's Covid-19 Task Force, said Singapore could enter the third phase of reopening its economy in the next few weeks.
This means that in the coming weeks, the rules for safe distancing will be relaxed and more activities can be resumed.
This is partly because Singapore has managed to keep the number of Covid-19 cases in the community relatively low.
However, this may not be good news for those who have previously enjoyed working from home.
While working from home remains the standard way of working, more employees will be able to return to work from September 28th.
Here's what you need to know about returning to the office:
Return to the office even if work can be done from home
Photo credit: Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health
As long as work can be done from home, the employee should work from home half the time. This should be calculated over a "reasonable period" of no more than four weeks.
So if you normally work a five-day week, you can return to the office for 2.5 days a week.
For part-time employees, the requirements are assessed proportionally. If a part-time worker works three days a week, he can only be in the office 1.5 days a week.
Employers should also ensure that no more than half of the workers who can work from home are in the office at the same time.
Although the government has stated that meetings should be conducted virtually as possible, regular physical meetings are allowed provided the rules above are followed.
In order for an employee to return to full-time work, employers must provide evidence of business or operational reasons why these employees cannot work from home.
External meetings and events in the workplace
Photo credit: Capitaland
Any work, training, or meeting outside of the workplace counts as time in the office.
Work-related events may be resumed within the workplace with up to 50 people (or fewer, depending on the capacity of the event location). Strict social distancing must be observed, with at least one meter between each employee.
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), work-related events include "business-oriented" events such as conferences, seminars, corporate retreats, annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings.
According to the existing guidelines, employers are not allowed to organize or promote large social gatherings inside or outside the workplace.
However, MOH mentioned in a statement that it would consider allowing work-related events in remote locations to resume at a later date.
In addition, religious ceremonies or prayers in the workplace can be held with up to 30 people at a time, or less, if there is insufficient space for safe distancing.
Interaction with colleagues
Image Credit: TimeOut
As in public, everyone in the workplace must wear their masks at all times – unless the nature of your work or the work environment makes this inadmissible.
Employees must be at least one meter away from their colleagues, including at their workplaces or in meetings.
Nor should there be a gathering in groups larger than five (or the predominant allowable group size for social gatherings).
According to the MOH, split team or shift agreements must continue to be implemented. Employers must also ensure a clear separation of workers in different teams or shifts.
It is also recommended to introduce flexible workplace arrangements. For example, employees can work from home in the morning and return to work in the afternoon.
Moving to a job after a pandemic
Most Singaporeans have been working from home for months. So it's safe to say that we have adapted to this new working regime.
The current policy of going to work half the time seems like a sensible solution for employees who have a love-hate relationship with working from home.
Although phase 3 is rapidly approaching, socializing in the workplace needs to be kept to a minimum and rules for safe distancing are observed.
Covid-19 is highly contagious and although the prevalence in Singapore is low, it is important to remain vigilant and take the necessary safety precautions.
Featured Image Source: Ed Jones via AFP