Transition into the endemic phase safely


THE highly anticipated “endemic” phase does not mean that the country will be free of Covid-19 risk, although the easing of restrictions offers a glimmer of hope for many, says Aisling group founder and MD Melissa Norman.

Among others, April 1 will see businesses operating without time restrictions; the reopening of the country’s borders; and there will be no more limits on the number of employees allowed in the workplace based on the company’s vaccination rate; as well as the revival of many industries especially tourism and hospitality.

“After nearly two years in the pandemic, several things require considerations to ensure that we enter this new stage gradually, thoughtfully and flexibly.

“Some businesses have taken a completely new approach in their operations like switching to a permanent work-from-home policy. With remote workers all over the country, some are relying more on technology and automation, but there are also organisations that are eager to have everyone back in the office and return to the original pre-Covid arrangement,” she said in a statement yesterday.

Depending on the way organisations function, Melissa suggested a few considerations for employers as the country transitions into the endemic phase.

“With many changing jobs during the full lockdown and may not have had the chance to see their colleagues, companies should look into rebuilding company culture and building connections between employees,” she said.

With the transition into the endemic phase, people might need to travel more, from the daily commutes to and from the office, to activities outside of office hours like company gatherings and training sessions, expenses are also something that needs consideration.

She added that while the situation will soon be deemed safe enough for employees to return to in-person work, Covid-19 is still something that should not be taken lightly.

Hence, companies must look into their safety practices to ensure that employees feel safe to come to work.

The transition might also require employers to review policies and practices.

“Will employees with symptoms be required to stay home? Will there be an option to increase paid or unpaid sick leave options?” Melissa said.

Lastly, for companies with remote employees, it is also important to look into the hiring practices and operations.

“Will some employees be permitted to work remote or flexible or under modified schedules while others are not? Will the employees who need to come to the office receive special benefits?

“The transition into the endemic phase is an important one and not something that should be taken lightly. Employers should consider this post-pandemic phase an opportunity to reassess, re-energise and potentially transform the workplace for the future,” she concluded.