Aboitiz eases back to ‘business unusual’ with caution
The Aboitiz Group is prepared to re-open its corporate offices and several offsite facilities following the scheduled lifting of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and select areas nationwide, but with a strict implementation of a ‘workplace re-entry program’ that is anchored on the company’s longer-term business continuity.
Aboitiz, which is currently operating businesses in crucial industries such as power, banking and financial services, food, infrastructure, and land, currently employs thousands of team members. About 12,674 Aboitiz frontliners will return to work at the end of the ECQ in various parts of the country. They are team members and subcontractors who need to be physically present in the offices or site facilities to perform their functions. Majority of its employees would still be working from home.
“What has become clear is that after the ECQ, the way we work will no longer be the same as before. We will be operating in a new normal and a new business environment, a situation that we need to adapt to with resilience,” said Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin M. Aboitiz.
“We are committed to continuously collaborate with the government in firing up the economy, which undoubtedly took a hit during this pandemic,” he added.
Aboitiz said the company and all its strategic business units will proactively implement its re-entry program to ensure the protection of its team members and all its stakeholders while allowing its companies to continue servicing the vast majority of its customers.
Return to safe workplaces
The group’s re-entry procedure will follow a phased approach to ensure that all team members across the Group return to safe workplaces. It will begin with an online risk assessment that will be thoroughly conducted by its partner health maintenance organization (HMO) Maxicare Healthcare for all Aboitiz ‘frontliners’.
After the preliminary assessment based on the subjects’ risk exposure and medical condition, frontline team members will undergo screening and antibody testing using Rapid Test Kits and will be referred to accredited hospitals and laboratory partners.
The process will help the company determine who may return to work or would need further testing. Those who are cleared will be given a ‘return-to-work certification’ or an ‘immunity pass.’ Standard testing will be done every two weeks upon their return to work but risk depends on the subjects’ level of exposure.
Aboitiz is continuously enhancing protocols that are already in place in the event there would be a resurgence of cases to ensure continuity of business operations.
Earlier, Aboitiz disclosed that the company will shoulder the expenses related to testing and hospitalization of team members who will contract the dreaded virus. Continuous monitoring and re-testing of team members will be conducted on a regular basis until 2021 to ensure a safe workplace.
Work From Home
A critical part of its longer-term business continuity plan is to ensure the safety of its team members, thus, Aboitiz confirmed that majority of its employees reporting at its corporate headquarters in Taguig City will still be on a work from home arrangement, especially those considered high-risk such as older and pregnant team members, and those with medical conditions.
“Return to work will be done on a gradual basis until the end of the year,” Aboitiz noted.
Physical Distancing and Germ-Proofing
Local and international travel is still widely discouraged in line with the existing policy on physical distancing while guidelines on building and facilities and regular germ-proofing would still be in place. Visitors are strictly not allowed in the offices and site facilities.
There will be a designated ‘staging area’ for the drop-off of important documents and packages by the main entrance of the office/facility premises. No delivery personnel will be allowed access.
Prior to Aboitiz frontliners’ return to the office, the premises will be thoroughly and regularly sanitized, including communal areas, lift/elevators, work stations, and other facilities, and equipment. Thermal scanning, footbath, use of alcohol and sanitizers, and wearing of face masks which will be provided by the company, are strictly implemented.
The workplace will be modified to align with new minimum health protocols and standards. Proximity cards and non-contact sensors have replaced the usual biometric scanning devices in opening access doors. Workplace capacity will be reduced to comply with physical distancing standards, and tables will be marked accordingly to help team members identify which seats may be used. Video conferencing is still encouraged within the office to avoid face-to-face communication. All meetings and other activities with external parties (i.e. conferences) will still be conducted online.
The company’s office cafeteria will also be catering to a limited number of people at a given time. Frequently-touched self-service equipment such as dispensers and vending machines are temporarily deactivated while disinfection stations are put in place. Team members are also encouraged to bring their own utensils, water bottles, and mugs and use microwave ovens that will be provided at each floor’s pantry.
To assist the transportation needs of team members returning to work, Aboitiz will be launching the ‘Pasabay’ Project, a new ridesharing approach which is a mobile application that would allow team members to either book or offer a ride to fellow team members, to and from the company’s headquarters office in Taguig City while observing proper physical distancing measures.
“The COVID-19 crisis is, without any doubt, a true test of resilience but with the extraordinary dedication of our team members, demonstrating our time-tested values of innovation, teamwork, integrity, and responsibility, we are confident that we will be able to deliver on our commitments seamlessly,” Aboitiz said.