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How Workplaces Can Make You Feel Safe To Return?
Nov 26, 2021
Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers have yet to return to offices.
Now with COVID-19 vaccinations efforts fully ramped up, a full-return to the workplace seems imminent.
Photo via The Straits Times
As such, medical experts are stressing on the need for proper ventilation at offices for employees to feel safe at the premises.
Professor of Occupational and Public Health at Universiti Malaya Dr Victor Hoe helps us understand what good ventilation is.
“If a room has wide open windows or open doors on the opposite side of the room then it’s a sign that the room has fresh air.”
“However, it is not always possible or practical for an area to have open windows all the time. So, the second-best thing is to be in a room with a centralized air-conditioning system.”
The virus can remain in the air for minutes or even hours depending on the ventilation.
He also explains how the air conditioning system would help.
Photo via Reuters
“A centralised AC takes in fresh air from the outside and conditions it before distributing it to the room. The air in the room with the centralised AC will be replaced with fresh air routinely.”
“For example, in an office, the air in the room will be replaced completely with fresh air every hour.”
But what if the office doesn’t have centralised air-conditioning?
“If your office uses a split AC unit, then you should leave the door open to allow fresh air from the outside or use a High Efficiency Particulate Air system or air purifier with HEPA filter in the room. But make sure that the filter in the air purifier is of HEPA standard.”
This is crucial because even the World Health Organisation has warned about the high risk of COVID-19 transmissions in indoor spaces with poor ventilation systems.
While remote work has proven to be a success by many companies, some leaders believe their company culture can be sustained and thrive better with their employees physically present in the office.
This as the country prepares to enter the endemic phase of COVID-19.
As such, we spoke to a few employees on what changes they’re expecting in the workplace.
Desmond Lee, who works at a banking institution shares with us some measures that need to be in place to feel safe to return.
“I think there shouldn't be any compromising in ensuring only fully vaccinated employees are allowed back in the office. You got to do your daily temperature screenings and symptom checks. “
“I would also recommend a flexi schedule. Seating arrangements...spread them out 1 metre apart and there should be regular cleaning and sanitisation of workspace and break areas.”
On the other hand, Kaness Kalaichelvan, who works at an IT company, highlights the need for workers to be given incentives to return to the office.
“Employers should focus more on making sure that only vaccinated individuals will be employed. Further employing rotation of staff, like you could have some staff on site on certain days or maybe weeks even and then some staff off-site and rotate that in and out. And make sure that they are committed to work from home procedures."
“But more importantly give them hazard pay if you want them to work from the office. Because at the end of the day, they are coming in to help the company out.”
Photo via AP News
Workplaces have been the main contributors to the hike in COVID-19 cases in the country.
In fact, the Health Ministry has reported that to date, workplace clusters comprised 53.2% or over 1,500 of the total number of clusters recorded nationwide.
Listen to the award-winning podcast on the SYOK app, titled, 'How Workplaces Can Make You Feel Safe To Return?'
By: Roshini Ravindran