The initial outbreaks of COVID-19 in Asia took place weeks and even months before similar outbreaks expanded through the West. While the future holds uncertainty as to the ultimate impact of the virus on employers, the pandemic’s origination in Asia provides an opportunity for Western-based employers to anticipate what working in the post-pandemic world may look like.

1. Prepare for Additional Waves

The most significant risk for employers returning to work and managing the loosening of government controls is the likelihood of additional outbreaks. Singapore provides an important case study. Singapore’s first wave of the virus arose out of the significant travel to and from China around the Chinese New Year. Singapore took quick action and largely succeeded in limiting the spread. A second wave came as individuals returned to Singapore after the outbreaks in Europe and the United States. Singapore authorities intensified their efforts to staunch the growing number of infections. Regardless, a third wave flooded the city with hundreds and even more than a thousand cases each day for weeks, as the virus spread through high-occupancy workers’ dormitories. The third wave triggered intense lockdown, the closure of all but essential businesses, and significant restrictions on movement.

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