Welcoming The New Norm

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By Melissa Norman

Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had recently announced that Malaysia would enter  the endemic phase of COVID-19 from April 1.
“Endemic” status does not mean zero risk, but this will definitely see the easing of restrictions around the country. Businesses will finally be allowed to operate without time restrictions, and  the country’s borders will also finally be reopened. Limits on the number of employees allowed in the workplace based on vaccination rates in a company will also no longer be applicable. In  the coming months, we will see the revival of many industries, tourism and hospitality  especially.
This definitely offers a glimmer of hope for many, but after nearly two years in the pandemic, there are several things that require considerations in order to ensure that we enter this new stage gradually, thoughtfully and flexibly.
Some businesses have taken a completely new approach in their operations. Some have switched 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 in one place and return to the traditional  arrangement, pre-COVID-19. Depending on the way your organisations functions, there are some of the key considerations for employers as we enter the endemic COVID phase.

Talent – the increased turnover that many employers are dealing with is not the only concern when it comes to talent. With many starting a new job during the full lockdown and may not have had the chance to see their team members, companies should look into rebuilding company culture and building connections between employees.

Expenses – with the transition into the endemic phase, people might be required to travel more, from the daily commutes to and from the office, to activities outside of  office hours like company get-togethers and training sessions.

Safety – the situation will soon be deemed safe enough for employees to return to in person work, but COVID-19 as it is right now is still something that should not be taken lightly. Companies will need to look into their safety practices to ensure that employees feel safe to come to work.

Policies – the transition might also require employers to look into policies and practices that may need to be changed or improved. Will employees with symptoms be required to stay home? Will there be an option to increase paid/unpaid sick leave options?

Remote workforce – 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 re-evaluate, re-energise, and potentially transform the workplace for the future. 

About the author: Melissa Norman (pictured above) is the founder and managing director of Aisling Group. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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