Workplaces relax social distancing

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Workplaces relax social distancing

More workers are trickling back to the office after weeks of telecommuting, as some companies are lifting requirements that employees work from home.

SK Group, Korea’s third-largest conglomerate, was one of the first companies to embrace the remote working system across all of its affiliates, following the coronavirus outbreak.

A spokesperson at the group said that some workers who have stayed at home have returned to the office as the number of new cases has flattened in recent days. Those pregnant or exhibiting symptoms are being asked to remain at home.

The employees at SK Telecom are an exception and will continue to work remotely through April 5. In February, the company’s headquarters in central Seoul were shut down after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.

The conglomerate has, however, modified its corporate rules to minimize potential exposure, widening the use of digital messaging apps and teleconference.

Energy units SK E&S and SK Innovation are considering rotating shifts for remote working.

In the case of its telecoms affiliate, employees will be granted more autonomy in deciding both their workspaces and schedules.

The spokesperson said that employees will be able to decide whether to work from home this month and that the company won’t limit the times allowed for remote working.

To not set off another wave of infections, SK employees use the Microsoft Teams messenger app and hold business meetings through T Group call, an in-house teleconference system.

Hyundai Motor and its subsidiary Kia Motors also instituted similar protocols to expand flexible working hours.

The automakers had previously set the starting time between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., but following the outbreak, they broadened the range to 1 p.m. in an effort to disperse workers.

Major builders such as Daelim Industrial and Hyundai Development Company have brought workers back, excluding those deemed more at risk, including pregnant women.

Posco Engineering & Construction embraced a two-shift system for remote working last month but plans to end the measure next Monday.

Its peers, such as Lotte Engineering & Construction and SK Engineering & Construction, plan to review whether to extend their remote work systems, which are scheduled to end this week.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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