The Circuit Breaker has lifted and Singaporeans are starting to enter a ‘new normal’. While businesses and workplaces are eager to reopen, it is crucial that leaders ensure this is done at the right pace. Open too fast and there’s a risk of not only infection numbers spiking, but it could also be detrimental to the employe experience.

According to Qualtrics’ Return to Work & Back to Business study, a majority (59%) of employees in Singapore are uncomfortable going back to the workplace at present.

Of the 511 Singaporeans surveyed, 66% of workers across age groups (spanning Boomers to Get Z) said they only expect to return to the workplace by July. At the same time, 50% nearly half said a treatment (50%) or vaccine (45%) must be approved for them to feel comfortable returning to the workplace.

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Furthermore, 62% wanted to wait for local government approval before returning to work. This tops the list external conditions residents of Southeast Asia want to see before they return.

The survey also found that before employees feel ready to return to work, they want employers to put the following safety practices in place:

  • 69% of workers wanted all employees to be required to wear masks.
  • 68% wanted hand sanitiser and cleaning supplies available throughout the office.
  • 56% wanted social distancing enforced.
  • 53% wanted temperature checks required.
  • 52% wanted employees who voluntarily travel for work or personal reasons to be required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days after.

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Even after returning to workplaces, Singapore’s employees won’t be fully at ease unless the following measures are taken by employers:

  • 95% of people said it was important to them that employees be required to wear masks.
  • 93% of people said it was important to them that they are allowed to work remotely at any point if they feel unsafe.
  • 93% of people said it was important to them to limit the number of people in an in-person work meeting.
  • 92% of people said it was important to them that social distancing was implemented in the workplace.
  • 90% of people said it was important to them that everyone has their temperature checked each day before entering the building.

Mao Gen Foo, Qualtrics’ Head of Southeast Asia, said: “With Circuit Breaker measures starting to lift, we are beginning to see businesses and workplaces reopen and return to normal. But as this occurs employers and businesses need to remember the pace with which they are re-opening might not match their employees’ or customers’ readiness to return.”

He added that employee and customer expectations have accelerated at an unprecedented rate in recent months, with more than half of Singaporeans feeling uncomfortable about returning.

“Organisations and governments need to understand how employee and customer behaviours and attitudes have changed so that they can take actions helping them feel confident during this next phase of the ‘new normal’. It is crucial that businesses are able to unlock insights around employee and customer confidence at each stage of the transition to drive necessary business actions,” he said.

In general, even as restrictions begin to ease, Singaporeans still don’t feel confident interacting with each other and 45% thought that we will never “get back to normal”.

Over half (58%) of respondents admit they still feel uncomfortable going to the gym. In addition, almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents say they would feel uncomfortable playing a team sport and 58% wouldn’t be comfortable attending a religious service.

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Key findings from a consumer point of view include:

  • 73% said they are uncomfortable with attending a live sporting event.
  • 25% who regularly attend sporting events said they are unlikely to attend in the foreseeable future, even once spectating is allowed.
  • 39% of people said they would not be comfortable going to a live sporting event until at least January 2021.
  • 72% said they are uncomfortable attending a live concert.
  • 43% of people said they would not be comfortable going to a live concert until at least January 2021.
  • 40% of people felt uncomfortable using public transport right now.
  • 69% said they would feel uncomfortable flying on an airplane.
  • 53% of people still felt uncomfortable going to a restaurant.
  • 34% felt uncomfortable about shopping retail in-person.

Further, even after public health officials say it’s safe, and a treatment or vaccine for the virus is readily available, there are a number of measures people want to see in place before they feel comfortable dining at a restaurant:

  • 13% want tables separated at a safe distance.
  • 12% want social distancing established.
  • 12% want servers and staff to wear gloves and masks.
  • 11% want their temperatures checked before going into the restaurant.

“Results reveal most consumers do not yet feel comfortable to return. It means as measures lift and businesses continue to reopen in the coming weeks and months, it’s essential they can understand how customers feel. Identifying the measures customers want to see implemented allows businesses to take action in the areas that matter most. Capturing feedback from frontline staff and digital channels will equip organisations with the data they need to cultivate consumer trust and confidence, and ultimately move forward,” said Foo.

Photo / iStock