Singapore

CBD area much quieter as more employees work from home

Amid the Central Business District's (CBD) gleaming skyscrapers, the streets were much quieter and unlike the hustle and bustle of a normal workday.

Instead of the huge crush of shirt- and dress-clad office workers during midday lunch break, there were just pockets of people heading for their meals when The Straits Times visited the area yesterday.

Popular lunch spots near Cross Street, Boon Tat Street and Robinson Road were less than half full, partly due to marked seats for social distancing.

Short queues could be seen at salad joints and quick-service restaurants at the likes of One Raffles Place and Republic Plaza, but service staff at food and beverage outlets there told The Straits Times that the crowds had been thinning since early March.

On Tuesday, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced that the ministry would come down harder on firms which have not made serious effort to put in place work-from-home arrangements.

MOM estimated that only 40 per cent of workers in firms in the CBD are telecommuting, and will be looking to amend laws to increase potential penalties, including imposing fines and stop-work orders, for businesses that fail to follow its advisories prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, she said.

Deloitte chief executive Cheung Pui Yuen said the firm started a split-team arrangement on Feb 12, with weekly rotations between the two teams.

It stepped up measures on March 23 when employees were given the option to work from home if they were not required to be in the office physically.

More than 80 per cent of Deloitte's 2,600 employees here are currently working remotely.

Mr Cheung added: "We are taking this time to experiment and observe the efficiency of these new work arrangements; this could very well be the defining moment in the way we work as a firm moving forward."

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