Singapore introduced its circuit breaker with little notice on April 7th — which lasted one month longer than initially expected, till June 2nd.
All non-essential workplaces were closed. It caused a hectic flurry as businesses scrambled to adapt, enable their employees to work from home and prevent a total loss of income — especially for the most affected retail and F&B industries.
But finally, the circuit breaker is over. We asked some business owners how they handled it, what learnings they had, and what they are doing to prepare for the future.
A (forced) move towards digitalisation
ContactOne Professional Services, a corporate administrative services provider, was one company that had to make significant changes. It had to buy new laptops, mobile phones, and other IT products for its employees to work from home — a necessary but unforseen expense to cope with what lay ahead.
“We are not considered an essential service, but our clients still needed to perform compliance filing to ACRA and IRAS, so we had to keep going to assist our clients,” the company founder Tony Koh explained.
And it’s just as well they adopted new, digitalised ways of working with the use of digital signatories, tele-conferencing and contactless payment. “You might say COVID-19 has been a driver for us to fast-forward what we eventually will need to do in the future,” Mr Koh said.
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A time to regroup and plan
Using the Circuit Breaker time to fine-tune their businesses was a common move by business owners.
Damien Chia, founder of Life Architech Pte Ltd, made a swift shift to move all his company’s resources online. To practice social distancing, he maximized telecommunication and remote access to data where possible.
Once that was done, he used the opportunity to regroup and improve its processes for the future. “I took the chance to sharpen our tools, spending energy and time on tightening our SOPs, and worked to build a stronger team,” he said.