Despite nod for full ops, firms keep up WFH arrangements as new norms of Covid-19 era set in

Keertan Ayamany And Danial Dzulkifly
·4-min read
Some firms that Malay Mail polled said they were choosing to be prudent by maintaining some level of work-from-home arrangements capable of allowing them to keep operating safely and effectively. ― IStock.com/AFP pic
Some firms that Malay Mail polled said they were choosing to be prudent by maintaining some level of work-from-home arrangements capable of allowing them to keep operating safely and effectively. ― IStock.com/AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The private sector has kept up safeguards against Covid-19 including limiting employees at workspaces despite the government’s move letting companies return to full capacity from April 1.

Some firms that Malay Mail polled said they were choosing to be prudent by maintaining some level of work-from-home arrangements capable of allowing them to keep operating safely and effectively.

For others such as Touch ‘n Go Group (TNG Group), WFH was no longer just an enforced measure but part of a new working culture that is taking root both here in Malaysia and in other parts of the world.

TNG Group chief human resource officer Erlny Greiss said the firm will maintain a limit on workspace capacity despite the government’s removal of this restriction.

“At the Touch ‘n Go Group level (Touch ‘n Go Sdn Bhd and TNG Digital), we are embracing the new norm and will not have more than 55 per cent of staff in the office at any one time.

“Therefore, we are currently in the midst of rethinking our office space design, to cater for better ergonomics with optimised spaces. We are looking at deployment of new technology to address the needs of our employees who are still working from home,” she told Malay Mail.

The group was also bolstering its internal communications capacity to cater to growing needs and demand from remote working as well as adjusting its employee benefits to adapt to this shift in work arrangement, she said.

Greiss said it was vital to foster the new ecosystem to ensure continued growth at the firm.

On March 30, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the National Security Council (NSC) had decided to allow private companies to return to full capacity while the Public Service Department (PSD) will decide on the capacity for the public sector.

On March 30, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the National Security Council had decided to allow private companies to return to full capacity while the Public Service Department will decide on the capacity for the public sector. — Bernama pic
On March 30, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the National Security Council had decided to allow private companies to return to full capacity while the Public Service Department will decide on the capacity for the public sector. — Bernama pic

Previously, Greiss said TNG Group had been working with a 33 per cent limit at their offices, rotating those working physically and remotely.

She said TNG Group was responding proactively to the paradigm shift that was accelerated due to the global pandemic, but stressed that the prime objective was still to ensure that operations were optimal.

However, Greiss predicted that the move to WFH at least in part was here to stay.

“In the future, we would probably need less space as we adjust to the new norm of getting work done. Employees are encouraged to come back to the office to interact with fellow colleagues, however, they are reminded to practice the SOPs.”

For online shopping platform Shopee, regional managing director Ian Ho said the company would maintain a 50 per cent limit at its office for the time being out of precaution.

Ho said this was the same as was in place when the conditional movement control order (CMCO) was put in place in several states this year.

“We will also continue to observe the development of Covid-19 cases in the country prior to making changes to our policies,” he told Malay Mail.

Ho said Shopee was also strictly enforcing the standard operating procedures from the CMCO, such as mandatory registrations, safe physical distancing and frequent sanitisation of common areas.

“Meanwhile, our Shopee warehouse facilities which continue to operate at full capacity follow stringent SOPs, including compulsory temperature checks for all staff and Shopee Xpress riders prior to entering the warehouse or making their delivery rounds, as well as daily sanitization of all our warehouses and hubs,’’ he said.

From the workers' perspective, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) said the decision to let companies return to full force was necessary for the country’s economic health.

MTUC deputy president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani also said he was confident the government performed adequate risk analysis of the measure and noted that the Covid-19 vaccine programme was already underway.

However, he said authorities must ensure that companies do not interpret the initiative as permission to return to pre-pandemic levels of safety.

“I think it's a good move for the long term of the economy, but the government must take the consideration to enforce that the companies fully follow standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“My advice to the companies is also the same, they must follow the SOPs,” he said.

Effendy also suggested that workers from essential industries such as manufacturing — where it is difficult to operate without their full workforce — be prioritised for vaccines to keep such workers safe.

Previously, Malaysian Employer Federation president Datuk Syed Hussain JP also welcomed the decision, saying it will ultimately help revitalise the economy as employers face tough challenges to drive their businesses.

When the movement control order (MCO) returned earlier this year, the government had also placed a restriction on essential business, allowing them to operate with only 30 per cent of management staff in office at any one time.

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