Reopening Singapore


The doors of the offices, factories, and stores are opening again. This is happening around the world in many countries. It is raising questions about how to live with corona-virus without causing deaths and economic catastrophe.

The organizations and leadership teams will have to ensure compliance with the safety procedures to ensure the safety and security of employees, clients, and partners. In this process, it is equally essential to create psychological safety for returning the employees.

Times ahead are still uncertain. Singapore preparedness and planning is commendable; communication by leaders of the country has been transparent and crisp. But let’s all agree, this is going to be hard. Infections cases are in control. This situation brings confidence and provides safety and security to return to workplaces.

But can we still be complacent? Our urges and frustration due to restrictions are going to drive our thinking on rushing to celebrate, meet our friends and family. UN-zoom social life and activate the sense of feel and touch.

Here are a few pointers that are going to be vital for leaders to remind ourselves in doing our part in support of re-opening the business and sustain the progress further.

  • Seamless Communication

There’s a value in communicating more often and more effectively. Leaders have to ensure that an on-going dialogue is maintained throughout this period. They have to treat this as a hyper-care phase. The employee will need guidance, and a reminder about the choices will make significant differences in outcome.

Remember, in the end; it will not be upbeat messages about all is well. It will be tragic to downplay and delay. Our cognitive biases, dysfunctional group dynamics, and organizational pressures could push towards delaying and discounting risk. It will likely lead to catastrophe.

  • Open Conversations – Make yourself available

We have seen a lot of corporate citizenship and corporate responsibility coming out of our sector, but the question needs to be what was the real impact of that programme? Did you really make a difference or was it just for the headline?”

Phyllis Costanza, head of UBS Society and CEO Optimus Foundation

Make yourself available and explore new channels of collaborative communication. Employees are key assets, and they deserve communication that helps them better understand the situations. Frequent, fluid conversations are vital in these times. Share information about procedures, policies, and changing local regulations.

  • Invest into Information & Technology

Invest in technology that provides secured entry and continuous monitoring of health, distancing, and PPE, etc. These systems amplify the ability to implement the adheres to policies and increases the safety levels of the workplace. While most of us have taken a manual approach towards information gathering, it’s about time to implement automated information gathering and continuous monitoring systems, while choosing these systems, you must make sure that they adapt to the changing requirements and regulatory compliance.

The critical challenge is that every choice will have a trade-off between short-term profit and safety and will come with risk. If things happen, the question would not be pointing finger to Who but whether the risk that was taken was wise.

  • Accept responsibility & embrace vulnerability

It’s going to be likely that despite well-planned actions, a failure could happen. Being able to admit and share regarding future uncertainties also speaks to vulnerability as a facet of courageous leadership. It’s okay to say that you don’t have all the answers as a leader, and neither you should pretend to be.

In Singapore, the early months of the outbreak were well managed, and WHO well commended the approach of leaders. Widespread testing and comprehensive tracing of close contracts were efficiently conducted.

Singapore successfully overcame the wave caused by returning students and residents from overseas. However, the dormitories and management of migrant workers turned out to be a cognitive blindspot, as said by Jeremy Lim, a professor from NUS.

The patience and perseverance of the leaders resulted in bringing down the cases in the general community. It has also stabilized the outbreak among migrant workers.

“There will be interruptions, and I don’t know when they will occur, and I don’t know how deep they will occur, I do know they will occur from time to time, and I also know that we’ll come out better on the other end”

Warren Buffet

The Singapore case presents a great example for corporate leadership and demonstrates the importance of communication, swift actions, and accepting responsibility is very important.

Leaders have a personal obligation towards those who are at the front-line. They must do what it takes and in their control to ensure safety and committing to learning the lessons and sharing this across in the interconnected world. Going through will need making swift and severe decisions. However, leading with compassion and extraordinarily touching the lives of employees to come out of this more robust than ever before.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of mine. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any organization.

Please share your experiences, comments, and learning on how you are dealing with reopening.

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Strategy, Growth, P&L | Head of International & APAC at Getronics | Leadership through people