Since the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, the government has mandated employers to implement the work-from-home arrangement in their businesses. This led to thousands of Filipino employees adjusting to working in their own homes and trying to balance work and their personal lives. It has advantages and disadvantages, but Filipinos don’t have a choice on that matter.

Of course, even the extended community quarantine (ECQ) has an end. Some areas in the Philippines already have transitioned to the general community quarantine (GCQ). What’s the difference between ECQ and GCQ for workers? Simply put, most establishments can now operate under GCQ.

Whether we like it or not, Filipinos are now heading to the “new normal” phase — through the “New Normal for the Workplace and Public Spaces Act of 2020”. This house bill seeks to establish new policies and regulations in workspaces and public places. The question is, what new policies and regulations can we adapt in our workplace?

The first thing you can do is create an alternative work schedule for our employees. One way to create an alternative work schedule is to have 50% of your employees work for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while the other half can work on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. This can help decrease the face-to-face interaction the employees would have to do, as face-to-face interaction can help transmit the virus. You can create your own variation of the alternative work schedule.

You can also encourage meetings via phone or video conferencing with external parties and even with fellow employees. This also further decreases face-to-face interaction. You can use video conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts to hold the meeting. Video conferencing tools usually have free features you can use without buying a premium version.

Keep in mind that physical distancing in workstations should also be practiced. Workstation seating should be arranged to allow separation between your employees of at least one meter. It is also important to disinfect your workstations for every 2 hours. Special attention should be given to phones and keyboards.

There should be guidelines for pantry usage. Encourage your employees to eat at their workstations instead of at the pantry. They should clean their workstations afterward. Your employees should also make sure to sanitize appliances in the pantry such as microwaves and water stations. Make sure to maintain physical distancing at the pantry as well. Lastly, your employees should bring their own utensils and prohibit the sharing of food. These practices can help minimize the possible transmission of the virus at your workplace.

Set guidelines for your common areas as well. Create a cleaning schedule for your common areas such as washrooms. Brushing of teeth in the washroom is also discouraged to avoid droplet splatter. Most importantly, also practice physical distancing in these common areas as well.

Lastly, always remind your employees to follow personal hygiene practices. Some of these personal hygiene practices include frequent handwashing for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizers, using tissues to cover the face while coughing or sneezing, avoiding handshakes, and self-monitoring of the following symptoms: fever, cough, colds, sore throat, and body weakness.

The “new normal” will someday become the norm. It may be daunting at first, but as time passes by people will soon get used to it. Through these guidelines, we are helping decrease the number of COVID-19 cases in our own way.