The Conditional MCO (CMCO) was announced by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on 10th May 2020 and was later extended to 9th June 2020 has come as a relief to many businesses and SMEs. This relaxed movement order allows the operation of businesses without the need to apply permission to operate with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) as long as the companies follow the relevant Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) that has been put in place.
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In the process of flattening the curve, there are economic considerations which the Federal Government had seriously contemplated and the outcome of extending a full lockdown may cause debilitating effects on the Malaysian businesses in the long run. As such, there was a lot of confusion upon the announcement of the CMCO as some State Governments were reluctant to embark on the CMCO immediately. Some of the reluctant states were Selangor, Kedah, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak because of the fear of un-retainable spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, these states have eased into allowing businesses to operate but keeping in mind the municipal rules which have been regulated by the respective State Governments.
Nonetheless, for most part of the country, the CMCO has begun to slowly get businesses back into gear. Companies should be well informed and aligned with the main requirements for operation and at the same time ensuring the safety and welfare of the employees. The following are the list of the SOPs which is non-negotiable if companies are planning to reopen:
The first basic rule is to ensure that “social distancing” is complied with. The prescribed distance will vary from industry to industry but for most part it is to ensure a 1-metre distance between the employees.
Secondly, the premises must be sanitised periodically starting with a major sanitisation before the employees are allowed to return to the business premises. All employees must be screened of their temperature before they are allowed into the premises.
Finally, the employees must be provided sanitisers and face masks at all times. These are the non-negotiable SOPs that all companies must observe upon deciding to start operation during the CMCO.
Work From Home
Apart from the SOP, we recommend that companies start placing internal SOP of best practices to ensure the efficacies of preventive measures in curbing the virus at the workplace.
One of the ideas which were widely explored during the MCO is the flexi working arrangement or “Work From Home” (WFH) option. The MCO, announced on 16th March 2020 had propelled half the industries to work from home to ensure continuity of business and it has become a forced norm for some companies. We therefore, expect that WFH will be some of the new normal practices that companies will be implementing until we are out of the woods.
Apart from safety reasons, WFH has also began to appeal as a form of cost cutting measures as companies no longer need to fork out expenses such as travelling allowance and overtime pay as the employees are now working at their own pace in the comfort of their homes.
This would also mean that companies must now consider new policies regarding employees’ KPI measurements and work from home etiquettes to ensure there is no breach or misuse of the flexi working arrangement.
The WFH arrangement has opened to an array of possibilities of manpower optimisation and may just be the new normal moving forward. Hence, the current working culture will face a shift in paradigm, and Human Resource Managers must be ready to pioneer the change of management in getting their respective companies to be ready for the new normal.
In summary, CHANGE is the new constant we are to be prepared for in the new world post MCO. As long as the war against COVID-19 virus is still at large; companies are advised to remain vigilant and practice putting employees’ safety and welfare in the forefront of their business considerations.