Enhancing the resilience of financial institutions’ workplaces

From April onwards, more employees will be allowed to return to workplaces and larger-scale activities will be able to take place. Singapore’s multi-ministry task force announced the easing of COVID-19 measures on 24 Mar as the country’s vaccination programme progresses.

As we prepare for a post COVID-19 new normal, how can we make our offices and workplaces safe and nimble to developing situations?

A recent project by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on future workplaces serves as a helpful guide to Singapore financial institutions.

Experts like Professor Lam Khee Poh, Dean of NUS Design and Environment (SDE), Adjunct Associate Professor Go Heng Huat from NUS Engineering (who is also Senior Consultant, Workplace Safety and Health Council), Adjunct Assistant Professor Kalisvar Marimuthu from NUS Medicine (also Senior Consultant, National Centre for Infectious Diseases), as well as former NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan (Chief Health Scientist and Executive Director of the Office for Healthcare Transformation at the Ministry of Health), were invited to contribute multi-disciplinary views on managing infectious diseases and designing workplaces for health and safety.

The study outlined many strategies and good practices in areas such as workplace redesign, crowd management, and new technologies, for banks and other financial institutions to adopt. These are aimed to help banks to future-proof their workplaces to ensure the safety of both their staff and customers, while ensuring the continuity of essential financial services.

One of its recommendations was to put in place business resilience plans, such as allowing staff to work remotely and to upskill and produce more versatile and resilient employees. The ability to seamlessly shift between ‘Pandemic OFF’ (Steady state) and ‘Pandemic ON’ states was also recommended so that workplaces can react to the changing situations of a pandemic by adjusting safe management measures, office density, air quality and operational measures. Another suggestion was for banks to embrace new technologies in order to streamline operations and enhance the employee experience.

SDE Dean Prof Lam said, "This is a timely study that is, first and foremost, motivated by a people-centric agenda and embodies the essential elements of good holistic design thinking. The recommendations derived from the collaborative input by a multi- and inter-disciplinary team offer a robust pathway to provide safer and healthier workplaces beyond the immediate pandemic episode, and the principles can well be applied to other building typologies at scale."

The insights and recommendations from this study were put together into a playbook. Click here for more information.