Tag Archives: government_n_workplace

Experts Predicted A Coronavirus Pandemic


(CNN) In 2017, a team of experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published a scenario as part of a training exercise that they believed could happen in the not-so-distant future. If experts predicted a coronavirus pandemic, or performed scenario training exercise, how should that be interpreted?

The SPARS Pandemic Scenario

The year is 2025. A few American travelers returning from Asia die of an unknown, influenza-like illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the victims were infected with a novel coronavirus, SPARS-CoV. Nothing is known about this novel coronavirus. There is no rapid diagnostic test. There are no known treatments. And there is no vaccine.

Reading the SPARS Pandemic Scenario is like reading an account of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the scenario wasn’t an attempt to predict the future.

It’s not long before the SPARS outbreak erupts into a global pandemic. The CDC finds SPARS is transmitted through respiratory droplets and recommends that everyone practice hand hygiene and frequently disinfect surfaces.

Experts learn that SPARS has a long incubation period– 7 to 10 days– and that it can be spread by asymptomatic carriers. Pregnant women and those with underlying conditions like asthma and emphysema are at a higher risk for complications and death.

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Social distancing, isolation, narratives in experts predicted pandemic

The WHO begins to recommend social distancing and isolation of suspected cases. There is hope that an existing antiviral drug could help treat SPARS, but there have been no randomized controlled trials. The US Food and Drug Administration issues an Emergency Use Authorization for this drug to treat SPARS patients.

Soon, there is high public demand for the drug and millions of doses are dispensed from the Strategic National Stockpile. However, it soon becomes apparent that the drug can cause serious side effects.

Things become political. Republicans voice their support of the drug while Democrats express doubt. America is more connected yet more divided than ever. Rumors and misinformation regarding the virus and potential treatments circulate on social media.

The economy takes a hit as the pandemic drags on. Within a year, a potential vaccine begins expedited review. And, there are promises that tens of millions of doses will be available within a few months. But of the hundreds of millions of people living in the US, who will get the vaccine first?

Communication in the time of Covid-19

Reading the SPARS Pandemic Scenario is like reading an account of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the scenario wasn’t an attempt to predict the future.

Rather, it was meant to illustrate a broad range of serious challenges that public health communicators might face. The hope was that by working through these challenges as part of a training exercise, federal, state and local agencies would be well prepared to respond to a similar scenario in the future.

If experts predicted a coronavirus pandemic years ago, as something that can happen in the future. That future is now. But many of the public health pitfalls meant to serve as teaching tools seem to have played out before our eyes.

Myfwl/Work Life Feed has shortened the write up for our readersClick here to view the full original write up at CNN.

City Centres ‘Risk’ Becoming ‘Ghost Towns’

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn_City Centres Risk Becoming 'Ghost Towns' If Staff Do Not Return To The Office

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn/BBC/ Warnings – City Centres ‘Risk’ Becoming ‘Ghost Towns’ If Staff Do Not Return To The Office

City centres could become “ghost towns” if the prime minister does not to do more to encourage workers to go back to the office, the head of the CBI says. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said allowing staff to work from home had helped keep firms afloat during the pandemic.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said getting staff back into offices and workplaces is as important as pupils returning to school in September.

“Remote working has been a resounding success for many firms and employees. None of these benefits should be lost.”

Check this related posts, Missing School Is Greater Risk To Kids Than COVID, Health Advisers. Or, Boris Johnson Urges Parents To Send Kids back To School.

Boris Johnson signalled an end to stay at home guidance in July as he gave employers the green light to get staff back to work. But Dame Carolyn called for the Prime Minister to do more, to get office workers back at their desks.

“Flexible working is here to stay and needs to remain an option for many. But there are serious downsides too.” 

‘Escape’ From City Centres, ‘Refuge’ Working From Home

Her plea came as a survey from University College London found, almost a third of younger workers intend to carry on working from home, the Telegraph reports.

But as offices stood empty, thousands of local businesses that relied on the passing trade were suffering, she said.

“Not everyone has the space to work effectively at home. An ironing board in the bedroom does not make a great workspace. And the mental health challenges triggered by isolation are all too real for many.”

A separate survey by the BBC found that 50 of the UK’s biggest employers have no plans to return staff to the office full-time.

However, a increasing number of employers say that home working could become a more permanent state of affairs. Though this was initially brought in as a temporary measure in the lockdown.

The law firm, Linklaters said all of its 5,300 staff could spend up to 50% of their time working remotely from now on.

Lloyds Banking Group is reviewing its office space needs and working practices. This is after concluding that most of its 65,000 staff have worked effectively from home during the crisis.

Others, including NatWest, Fujitsu, Facebook, Twitter and HSBC have also said they plan to allow much more flexible working in future.

Experts say it could allow firms to cut their rent and utilities costs, while offering employees a better work-life balance.

Can Inherent City Centres ‘Risk’ Be Causing ‘Communities Harm?’

“The UK’s offices are vital drivers of our economy,” she wrote in the Daily Mail. “They support thousands of local firms, from dry cleaners to sandwich bars. They help train and develop young people. And they foster better work and productivity for many kinds of business.”

“The costs of office closure are becoming clearer by the day. Some of our busiest city centres resemble ghost towns, missing the usual bustle of passing trade. This comes at a high price for local businesses, jobs and communities,” she said.

There is also the question of fairness. Many employees, from barbers to brewers, have no option to work from home.

The impact on local businesses has also been stark. Sandwich chain, Pret a Manger – which relies on a lunchtime work crowd – said in June it was shutting 30 outlets. It will also be cutting 1,000 jobs amid a slump in demand. It has also cut its staff’s hours.

City Centers Impact On Driving The Economy of The Future

Dame Carolyn acknowledged home working had worked well for many, and was likely to remain “an option”.

But she warned of “serious downsides,” including, a lack of opportunities to train young people, foster better work and productivity in certain types of business.

More flexible working is indisputably a good thing for our economy and quality of life, but we must have a balance.

“It’s time for the UK to bring its workplaces back to life or we will look back with regret at the jobs lost, training missed and communities harmed,” Dame Carolyn said.

In a final plea, Dame Carolyn “ask the Government to work with business to build confidence in returning to offices, starting now.”


Where we are following the story, Daily Mail, Evening Standard and BBC

Missing School Is Greater Risk To Kids Than Covid, Health Advisers


FILE PHOTO: A child gestures in a classroom at Watlington Primary School during the last day of school, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Watlington , Britain, July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh/ Missing school is greater risk to kids than Covid-19

LONDON (Reuters) – The chief medical officers of the United Kingdom have said children should return to school after the summer holidays. They warn that missing out on their education, by missing school is greater risk, much bigger risks to them than catching COVID-19.

The rare joint statement came from the top health advisers to the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It represents a boost for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister had said, getting children back to school is a national priority. He now calls on parents to send their children back to school next month.

If Missing School Is Greater Risk To Kids Than Covid. Balancing Governance (Public Safety, Economic Recovery etc) Is A Risk With People’s Confidence

Confidence in the government’s approach to schooling during the coronavirus pandemic took a hit last week. This was when education minister, Gavin Williamson was forced into an embarrassing U-turn over examination results.

“Very few, if any, children or teenagers will come to long term harm from COVID-19 due solely to attending school,” they said. “This has to be set against a certainty of long-term harm to many children and young people from not attending school,” the CMOs said in a joint statement published late on Saturday.

“Missing school is greater risk not only to kids, but also to their parents. When kids return back to school, it brings some sense of normality to working parents.”

Evidence showed that a lack of schooling increased inequalities, reduced opportunities and could exacerbate physical and mental health issues, the statement said.

By contrast there was clear evidence of a very low rate of severe disease in children, even if they caught COVID-19, and an exceptionally low risk of dying.

What Hospitalisation Statistics Indicate

“The percentage of symptomatic cases requiring hospitalisation is estimated to be 0.1% for children aged 0-9 and 0.3% among those aged 10-19; compared to a hospitalisation rate of over 4% in the UK for the general population,” the statement said.

Johnson has said reopening schools in September is a social, economic and moral imperative. Insisting, they would be able to operate safely despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccines To The Risk? Not So Fast

Separately, England’s Chief Medical Officer was quoted as saying, it would be foolish to count on a coronavirus vaccine being ready for use this year.

“I think if we look forward a year. I think the chances are much greater than if we look forward six months. We need to have that sort of timescale in mind,” Chris Whitty told Sky News.

Nigeria and West Africa ‘Exit’ Examinations Continues in Full Swing

In Nigeria, the National Examinations Council (NECO) examination for students in year 9, started today across the country. Across West Africa, the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) commenced on August 17. The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) had earlier released the timetable for the examination.

Missing school is greater risk not only to kids, but also to their parents. When kids return back to school, it brings some sense of normality to working parents. The pressures of staying safe in a pandemic, balancing worklife or searching for complementary home school support tech startups eases out. And so also, the risk on mental health and economic productivity.

Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train

Dubai Government to introduce flexible working for all employees

Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, inaugurates Dewa’s Future Centre for Customer Happiness at Ibn Battuta Mall. Wam / Dubai government is joining flexible working train

Dubai’s government will be introducing flexible working for all departments. According to Gulfnews, the Dubai Government Human Resources Department (DGHR) announced on Saturday, that they will activate the flexible working system across all government departments starting Sunday August 16.

Why Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train

The policy aims to increase employees’ happiness and improve their productivity. This is in line with the implementation of the directives of the Strategic Affairs Council of Dubai’s Executive Council.

According to Abdulla Ali bin Zayed Al Falasi, Director General of DGHR Department, the decision aims to ensure the safety of employees, especially in emergency weather conditions.

Abdullah Al Falasi said flexible hours could help ease traffic congestion during peak hours. It will improve work-life balance, motivation and give employees more time to devote to their hobbies.

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This is in addition to helping employees achieve job well-being, reduce attendance delays, and leave permission.

Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train, Driven by COVID-19

UAE firms were previously said to be slow to adopt flexible working practices. Even though this had become popular in some of the more mature markets, like the US, UK and Singapore.

That all changed with the outbreak of Covid-19.

Cautiously like the rest of the world, Dubai government employees returned to the workplace in phases starting from May. This followed the closure of offices in March due to the coronavirus.

Starting at 30 per cent, then 50 per cent, the full workforce returned to government offices in Dubai in mid-June.

Employees with compromised immunity, those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and people with disabilities were told they should continue to work remotely from home.

Returning employees found their workplace very different. There were signs explaining social distancing protocols and reminders to frequently sanitize their hands.

What Will Not Be Compromised Even Though Dubai Government Is Joining Flexible Working Train

In the circular issued on Saturday, the DGHR department stated the period within the flexible working hours, in the morning period, when an employee can resume for work. Work can start anytime from 6:30am until 8:30am.

This is provided that the employee shall complete the number of official working hours as determined by the government entity that the person works for.

Employees whose roles require “continuous communication” with the public, and staff working in shifts, are not eligible.

To be eligible, their department must find a way to bring in flexible hours without impacting its services. And done without prejudice to the smooth running of their work.

The circular obliged human resources departments of government entities to amend the internal regulations related to attendance and departure hours. They are to provide a mechanism for implementing the circular, so it can achieve the desired goals.

When the implementation kicks off, they are to provide periodic reports and data on the results of the new working model, and submit to DGHR.

All Encompassing Benefits

“The world is not going to change in two hours, especially in the morning. There is nothing urgent to submit in those times. So it will definitely improve productivity and give more flexibility to the employee. There is also very little risk for the employer,” said Vijay Gandhi, regional director for Korn Ferry Digital, a global consultancy firm.

“The biggest benefit in these times of flexible hours is the adaptability with family situations, especially with online schooling,” said Mr Gandhi.

Parents are being given a choice to send their kids to school or not. This allows people in Dubai Government to be more flexible at home. Productivity is not impacted negatively in any way because employees are still working the same number of hours.

Related: Working from home is Irish colcannon and stew and Finance union pushes for post-lockdown rules on home working


Myfwl adapted the write up for short minutes readers. Click here to view the original write up at www.thenational.ae. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section.


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Worklife: Work From Anywhere, not just Work From Home

Air district asks employers to expand remote working options

For our ever changing worklife – Work from Anywhere (WFA) has taken over from Working from Home (WFH). That is my fun work life shaping out, a new convenience (office) store offering just by the corner. Remote working came up earlier, but majority where working from home.

Before the pandemic, it was not unusual to connect with work at a coffee shop. I take work home, work into the night and work while on vacation. Working from home was COVID-19 lock-in scenario.

As businesses adapt to living with COVID-19 and beyond, new formal work structures are evolving. Working from anywhere – from home, remotely, or a park is expected to take up normal part of worklife.

Policy shifts and new work products are emerging

The post pandemic work from anywhere is already changing government and corporate policies. It will also trigger changes in other significant structural and worklife supply value chain.

In Asia Pacific, Chubb, the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company has launch a Work from Home (WFH) Insurance. The product offers coverage for employees who take their work outside or are on the move and are injured. Worklife from anywhere is covered, but still require some extensions.

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Bay Area Air Quality Management District along with Santa Clara County asked Bay Area employers to sign the “Cut the Commute Pledge”. This is to extend teleworking for 25 percent of employees if their work allows it.

Related: Coronavirus Is This The End Of Office Working In Wales

Employers would also vow to include a formal work-from-home policy as part of the employee benefits package. These are attempts to improve both the air quality and quality of life for Bay Area residents after shelter-in-place orders are eased.

Benefits of working from anywhere are adding up

In the first seven weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bay Area saw a 32 percent reduction to CO2 emissions. This is in large part due to the significant decrease in vehicle traffic, as transportation is the top source of air pollution in the region.

“The pandemic has shown us that remote work is possible and productive for many. It offers an alternative to traffic gridlock and mega commutes – leading to open roads, healthier air and happier employees,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the BAAQMD.

“Without the congestion on the freeways and bumper-to-bumper traffic, we see the surroundings of our mountains, we see more animals, and have more opportunities to engage with our families. The air is fresh, and our eyes and our lungs are not burning,” said Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

Benefits of cutting the mega commute includes cost savings for employers and employees, improved employee recruitment and retention, improved work-life balance as well as the increased ability to adjust business as part of a disaster recovery or emergency plan.

Worklife global transformation

Outside of the US, companies are amending their work plans and policy as new realities emerges. Steller has adopted a long-term work-from-home policy, even though they still want to keep their headquarter. Toyota is giving “eligible” employees option to work from home permanently. And Fujitsu will in three years time, halve the office space in use.

India companies are making the change despite logistical and infrastructural issues. Physical work space in large families is a challenge.

C K Ranganathan, chairman of CavinKare and all his staff now work remotely. “This will now allow me to hire people from smaller towns. My cost of hiring and attrition goes down, giving savings per employee per month,” he says.

Sambandam of Kissflow has also rolled out remote+, a new worklife model that allows employees to work from anywhere. Employees are encouraged to move back to their hometown to reduce expenses and strengthen local bonds. They can work remotely three out of four weeks, and spend the fourth in Chennai. For those who move to remote locations, the company’s benefit scheme will cover travel and accommodation bill in Chennai.

Harith is also exploring a similar plan.

“The silver lining in this pandemic is cleaner skies and clearer roadways. We don’t want to lose that as treatments and cures are discovered for COVID,” said President of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Carl Guardino.

Click here to view original web page at www.ktvu.com

Working from home is Irish colcannon and stew

work from home - Irish stew

Credit – Catherine Balston, BBCgoodfood/ Irish stew

DUBLIN, July 13 (Reuters/myFWL Post) – All over the world, the coronavirus pandemic induced working from home has made many people re-discover a part of their culture. Working from home, or observing a furlough, some like Michelle Brenner are discovering their passion beyond work.

I have not heard of any one ordering frozen Irish stew like they did frozen lasagna. Maybe an idea for an Irish employee. One among many that wants to continue working from home can try out a new trick with any of the traditional dishes.

Over 80% of Irish employees want to continue to spend at least part of their week working from home when normal life resumes after the coronavirus pandemic, a survey found on Monday.

What traditional dish taste as good as working from home?

Working from home taste like a meal of colcannon served with an Irish stew made with mutton. A mix of boxty, coddle and colcannon while employees work from home wouldn’t get anyone to look like this model of future remote workers. It is therefore extremely important that what ever rules applies, wellbeing and wellness should continue to take priority.

Like much of Europe, most Irish workers were forced to work from home when the economy went into lockdown in March . The government’s advice remains for people to do so, where they can, as it prepares to lift the last of the restrictions.


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Government wants to bridge working from home and from office

When asked what their ideal working arrangement would be when normal life resumes, the highest preference – 24% – was to work 2-3 days a week from home, according to the AIB/Amárach Research survey of over 1,000 adults carried out over the last four weeks.

Another 20% said they would like to work 1-2 days a week at home and the rest in the office, with the same level expressing a preference to work 3-4 days a week from home and 14% saying they would go to the office during the week only if needed.

That left just 15% preferring to go back to the office the way it was before.

Ireland’s new government has pledged to bring in measures to permanently increase remote working – including potential tax incentives – in a bid to promote better work life balance, higher female participation, greater regional balance and address climate change via less commuting.

Time will tell, if the Department of Transport policy that had been in place since January 2015 will be amended.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Ed Osmond, additional notes by myFWL Post)

Click here to view original web page at www.reuters.com


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Two Government departments had remote working policy in place before Covid-19

Two Government departments had remote working policy in place before Covid-19

Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Two Government departments had “working from home” policies in place before the coronavirus pandemic, it has emerged. Most other departments have not developed a policy and rely on guidelines from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issued in recent days and await the development of a long-term policy on remote working […]

Click here to view original web page at www.irishtimes.com

Finance union pushes for post-lockdown rules on home working

Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

The Financial Services Union (FSU) has written to Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar calling for Government backing for rules on remote working, which is expected to remain a permanent feature of the economy following the Covid-19 crisis.

The union is calling for increased allowances for employees working from home, sufficient IT and other equipment, legislation for the right of workers to disconnect after office hours, and four-day working weeks with no changes to pay for people in the financial industry “in recognition of work intensity”.

Click here to view original web page at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/finance-union-pushes-for-post-lockdown-rules-on-home-working-1.4297693

Year 2045 Remote Home Worker Prototype from Experts Model

Year 2045 remote home worker will suffer from hunched shoulders, double chin, obesity and ‘digital eye strain’ – dry, bloodshot eyes as a result of staring at a computer screen all day long.

Experts have created a model depicting what Brits could look like if we were to work from home for the rest of our life. The home worker of 2045 is represented by ‘Susan’, a scary rendering created by clinical psychologists and fitness experts. Susan suffers from hunched shoulders, double […]

The home worker of 2045 is represented by ‘Susan’, a scary rendering created by clinical psychologists and fitness experts.

‘With lockdown having forced people across the globe into what has been the world’s largest remote working experiment, our usual interpretation of the perk has been transformed forever,’ said a spokesperson at DirectlyApply.

Click here to view original web page at www.dailymail.co.uk

Work-Life Conflict Can’t Be Solved—and That’s a Good Thing

The life of a working parent has always been relentlessly demanding, but during the Covid-19 pandemic it has morphed into a rigged game of whack-a-mole. Attending to a child’s education means neglecting a meeting. Focusing on a work assignment means leaving children to their own mischievous devices—or, in the […]

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