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The Civil Service Commission (CSC) calls on government agencies to undertake the necessary preparations for the reopening of government offices in areas transitioning from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) such as the National Capital Region.

While the government’s efficiency and responsiveness remains inviolable in the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic, this must be balanced with the need to protect the safety and health of the public sector workforce. In this light, the CSC urges heads of agencies to implement precautionary measures prior to resumption of normal operations, such as disinfection and decontamination activities, conduct of health status check among employees, and modification of workplace layout to ensure observance of physical distancing requirements.

Agencies are also mandated to enforce health standard protocol at all times such as wearing of face masks, taking of body temperature, and setting up of sanitation stations, for the protection of both government workers and the citizens transacting inside government offices.

Moreover, support mechanisms, such as health/psychosocial interventions, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees, and reasonable transportation facilities and housing quarters, should be made available to government workers.

Agencies may adopt alternative working arrangements (AWA) as prescribed under CSC Memorandum Circular No. 10, s. 2020. These are work-from-home arrangement, skeleton workforce, four-day or compressed workweek, and staggered working hours. An agency may also adopt work arrangements consisting of a combination of these, or other work arrangements appropriate and applicable to the agency considering the prevailing community quarantine in the area where it is located and the nature of work performed by its employees.

Truly, these are difficult and critical times. Now more than ever, we, in government, need to reassess the ways we have been doing business, setting goals and targets, managing our people, and evaluating our work performance. We need to move forward with a fresh perspective, knowing that business-as-usual may no longer cut it and that innovation has now become a crucial ingredient not only to meet organizational objectives but also to keep our employees safe, healthy, happy, and committed. To our leaders, managers, and HR officers/practitioners in the public sector, we strongly urge you to work with the CSC in establishing a “better normal” for the bureaucracy.