Less crowded trading floors, facial recognition systems and split work areas could all become routine for bankers in Singapore as the city-state readies for office life in a post-COVID-19 world.
Financial institutions in the city-state should use more no-touch technology, allow more space for each employee and adopt split teams on trading floors once staff return after the COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations from a study commissioned by the city-state’s Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and released yesterday said.
Lenders are being encouraged to use hot-desking, motion detectors, temperature and face-mask detection screening, and improved ventilation to avoid potential contamination, the report said.
Staff should be allowed to work from satellite offices or branches in addition to companies’ main headquarters, it said.
Such measures “are imperative to strike a balance between workplace safety and minimizing disruption to business operations,” said the study, which was carried out by real estate consultancy Cushman & Wakefield PLC and some of Singapore’s biggest banks.
With more than 200 financial institutions operating in Singapore, the city-state is looking at how to get staff back to the office after they have spent more than one year juggling working from home and family life.
The city-state has taken a cautious approach to returning staff to offices even as infection rates remain low.
The recommendations from Singapore envision a workplace that is geared to switch quickly to a “pandemic-on” mode so that companies can react to pandemics.
“MAS encourages our financial institutions to consider the recommended strategies in the Playbook to enhance safety and resiliency in the workplace,” MAS Deputy Managing Director Ong Chong Tee (王宗智) said in a statement. “This will be helpful to be well prepared for any situations in future that may require safe distancing and work-from-home arrangements.”
The report also compares Singapore’s approach in managing the pandemic with other major financial hubs, such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, New York and Sydney.
It found that the density of its offices is comparable to Sydney, with an average 7.4m2 to 11m2 per seat. That is more spacious than in Hong Kong, where it is 3.7m2 to 9m2.
How financial institutions adapt to a post-COVID-19 world has the potential to reshape business districts in hubs around the world.
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