COVID-19: What are companies doing?
The COVID-19 virus has affected over 20 countries since its first outbreak in January.
And Asian nations make up the majority of those affected which include Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Macau, Philippines and Vietnam.
Many businesses and employers have already taken precautions and measures to contain and prevent an outbreak among their employees such as cancelling work trips to China as well as allowing employees who have travelled to China to work from home.
We spoke to some of the biggest companies in the region to find out what measures they are taking to prevent further outbreak of the virus.
The social media giant, who has offices in most of the affected countries including China, have asked employees to suspend non-essential travel to China to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees,” a company spokesman said.
For its Singapore office, any Facebook employees returning from China are advised to work from home for a period. This also aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidance, where Facebook has asked all employees to suspend non-essential travel to mainland China.
In addition, Facebook is also working to limit the spread of misinformation and harmful content about the virus, and connecting people to helpful information. Read more about Facebook’s efforts here.
“Our response has been two-fold. We moved quickly to manage and minimise the risk of infection while activating our business contingency plans to avoid disruption to our services. As a company with a big workforce and many customers, we have a responsibility to keep our employees and their families safe as well as serve our customers and clients with as little disruption as possible,” Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong told HRM Asia.
The telco giant has also put in place stringent visitor controls and protocols, distributed masks and set up temperature monitoring screens across its offices as well as got its workforce to practice social distancing and shared widely on health and safety advice.
In addition, the company has imposed mandatory travel declarations, travel bans and leave of absence as further precautionary measures to minimise unnecessary travel and contact, while allowing flexible work arrangements where necessary.
McDonald’s Singapore have taken additional precautionary measures to ensure a clean and safe dining experience for everyone such as increased frequency of sanitisation of all customer touchpoints including self-ordering kiosks, door handles, tables, chairs, serving trays, table tents, condiment area, PlayPlace, etc.
Its employees are also reminded to maintain good personal hygiene in and out of work. Daily temperature checks are also carried out for all employees and suppliers to ensure they are fit for work. In addition, all restaurants are equipped with surgical face masks for use when necessary and are prepared with contact-tracing records in the event of need.
The company are also obtaining travel declarations from employees and suppliers, and those returning from China must take a 14-day Leave of Absence.
“The well-being of our employees, our partners and customers and their families is our number one priority. We are closely monitoring the situation and are following the processes and protocols outlined by public health authorities. Out of an abundance of caution, we have implemented certain travel restrictions for HP Inc. employees traveling to and from China,” said a HP spokesperson.
Singapore’s local insurer has kept staff and agents updated on the development of the COVID-19 virus almost daily, and encouraged them to stay vigilant and to observe a list of precautionary measures (aligned to Ministry of Health’s advisory).
Temperature screening has been carried out at all its offices and branches since January 29. Any staff or visitor found to have a temperature of 38 degrees Celcius or more, or is visibly unwell, will be asked to seek medical attention immediately.
The company have also distributed health kits that contain face masks and a hand sanitiser to all staff and agents as a precautionary measure in the event that they are sick and need to visit a doctor or if the situation worsens. And staff are reminded to practice good personal hygiene and seek medical attention if they feel unwell.
Staff and agents who have recently returned from China, HK or Macau, or any staff or agent who have had close contact with any friends / relatives who have recently returned from China, HK or Macau, must observe a 14 day monitoring period. During this time, the affected staff or agents are to work from home and not allowed to return to office.
They are also to take and report their temperatures through and online portal twice a day, so that the company is able to monitor the situation and take any necessary action. Staff and agents are also required to declare their upcoming travel plans, if any.