On the brighter side of things. Covid – a cup, half full.
We have been taught, right from the start, to look at the positive side of every bad event or situation. Burnt into our optimistic psyches are positive sayings such as; “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, “In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining” ….. etc, etc.
In our current pandemic situation, however hard it may be to find, there have been positive gains and lessons learnt on how we approach our work life.
Our behavioral habits
The continuous grind from the medical community has inculcated behaviors in all of us almost to the point of everyone being considered germophobes. This is not entirely a bad thing as we’ve noticed an improved situation in the control of other common ailments of past. Our knowledge has also improved greatly – from differentiating Viral vs Bacterial diseases to the background behind Antibiotics vs Anti-viral medications and most recently how MRNA differ from Virus Vectored vaccines.
Just as Employees have gotten into the responsible habits of washing and disinfecting their hands, wearing good quality masks and ensuring safe distancing; their elevated expectations of their workspace is imperative in giving that sense of safety. While most of us have experienced the benefits and autonomy of remote working, we still crave the camaraderie gained from collaborative achievements and in-person social interaction.
In order to ensure that our work environment meets the muster, the following ideals has been adopted quite widely:
How our workplace has changed
Some companies have already or are planning to redesign their workspace layouts in keeping with safe distancing recommendations. These include minimum distances between workstations, partitions or plexiglass / acrylic separators or even cubicles and enclosed PODs for workers engaged in intense vocal interactions with clientele (eg. call centres, customer service operations)
Vaccinate or Regular Testing
The Singapore Government has announced that from 1 October 2021, employees in selected sectors would be required to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing (i.e. “Vaccinate or Regular Test” (VoRT) regime). The Public Service, as the largest employer in Singapore, will also lead by example in implementing the VoRT. The Ministry of Manpower in Singapore has urged all employers to follow the example set by the Public Service in adopting the VoRT regime.
Air filtration & UV cleaning
Some companies have redesigned their office environment to include Antimicrobial Air filtration using specially treated filters and Ultraviolet air sterilization. A viable solution: Biozone’s Air Purification system uses a specially formulated plasma lamp which breaks up the core holding structure of airborne contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and mould.
On a more therapeutic angle, the pandemic has ignited interests in gardening and potted plants in our homes. The air purification properties of plants have been studied through the years. In 1989, a team at NASA conducted its ‘clean air study’ to investigate the naturally filtering properties of plant life. It concluded that certain plants can act as a natural air filter to remove organic air pollutants and even gave a recommended list of plants most effective at naturally filtering out indoor air pollutants. Some of these include indoor plants that can already commonly found in our homes and offices; English Ivy, Pothos (money plant), Peace lily and Spider plant.
Forced to learn new skills: digital transformation
It’s funny because it’s true. But while the pandemic has triggered five years’ worth of digital adoption in a matter of eight weeks (according to a McKinsey study), organisations must now be proactive in ensuring these changes are long-lasting, said GovTech Chief Executive Kok Ping Soon, who kicked off the 25 March 2021 edition of the Stack X Webinar series, titled “CIO Edition: Perspectives from the Public and Private Sector”. GovTech – Technews
Singapore’s digital roadmap was already well established before the pandemic hit us. The covid situation has accelerated the pace of digital transformation. With increased government spending on assisting businesses digitise, sponsored learning, support for companies leveraging on digital marketing and digitisation grants for Fintech businesses comes the promise of resilience in our economy and more importantly; the sustainability of our workforce in meeting future challenges.
In the words of Vivian Greene: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
We have all learnt to be more resilient and adaptable through the pause created by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The skills gained from learning this “dance” will make it that much easier for us to get through the next storm.