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On the night of 16 March 2020, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin declared a Movement Control Order (MCO) for the period of 18 March 2020 to 31 March 2020, sending Malaysians into panic and frenzy.
In the past few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into a state of crisis, forcing governments all over the world to impose movement controls on its people in an effort to limit the continuous spread of the coronavirus and prevent further loss of lives. Malaysia was no different.
There was panic, panic buying at the grocery stores where ‘survival of the fastest’ became the new catchphrase and toilet-paper is the hottest commodity; there was fear, fear that Malaysians would lose their income if the companies they work for are ‘non-essential’ and required to close for business; and there was concern, concern from Malaysian companies being forced into an unprecedented situation where they need to prepare a 2-week WFH arrangement within a day.
Today is Day 7 of the movement control period, how are you coping as an employee or an employer? For Biztory, it is business as usual; no panic, no fear, no worry, unless our clients are concerned.
Due to the Biztory team’s flexible work arrangement, the concept of remote working or WFH are not foreign to us as we had past experiences involving traveling teammates. We have also self-imposed a WFH period before the MCO was declared out of concern for teammates who are traveling via public transport (and because of a case in IOI Mall Puchong, too close to home). That aside, in order for a WFH arrangement to work, certain rules must be set.
Having a cloud-based or remote-access enabled system
Since Biztory is a cloud accounting software company, our operating system is naturally a cloud-based one, which grants access to all team members wherever they are, as long as they have an internet-connected device. Having a system like this is the first step to a smoother WFH experience.
With technological advancements, companies are encouraged to invest in cloud-based systems or more flexible ones that allow remote-access, and replace as many manual processes as possible with automation. By leveraging on technology and automation, the idea of WFH will not be a daunting one, and an employee’s sense of ownership and productivity actually increases.
While many companies may think twice about the transition from manual or conventional business systems to cloud-based systems due to cost concerns, we think cloud technology is the way forward and are offering our cloud-based accounting software on a subscription basis, at a very affordable price.
Nelson Mandela says it best, “It always seems impossible until it is done”, we’ve already talked about what we can do for your business in this blogpost, and trust us when we say moving onto the cloud has been the best move we have made.
Communicate, communicate, communicate…
Communication is the glue that binds a team together, especially in times where physical presence is not possible. All Biztory team members are first given information of expected work hours, main channels of communication, and team collaboration tools the company will use to coordinate remote work.
We start each work day with a video conference call via Zoom or Google Hangouts, where team members will share their work progress and problems faced, brainstorm solutions, and formulate action plans.
This conference call could be anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour, after which it is work time.
Throughout the day, team members keep their communications open with our preferred work collaboration tool, Workplace from Facebook.
…But not in your PJ’s
Notice that none of us were in our pyjamas? That’s because no matter how flexible our work arrangement can be, it does not mean we participate in a video conference call in our pyjamas, nor do we dress in full business attire. We dress in proper casual attires that still reminds us we have work to do, and we have standards.
Assign tasks and set deadlines
After starting the day with the video conference call via Google Hangouts, we keep all team members involved and updated with Trello, a list-making app that allows tasks to be created and assigned to specific team members. Each team member will then work on the tasks that are assigned to them, ensuring tasks are completed before deadline, and progress is updated.
Remote-working tools such as Trello keeps all team members alert with their tasks and activities, reminding them that their contribution is still required, and providing them a continuous sense of belonging in times of isolation.
While WFH is a pleasure for those who either cannot do much from home or could do away with unnecessary commuting and easily get the same amount of work done at home, it may not be a pleasure to many others who look forward to the daily human interaction that an office environment allows. During the MCO, where Malaysians are required to stay at home, it is a pain for those who live alone or requires human interaction to go about their daily lives as they are coped up at home with only multiple screens and devices to work with and keep them entertained.
Our team leader or teammates will check in on us from time to time, to keep up our spirits and see that our wellbeing is in order. A team that plays together stays together.
Each team member stays disciplined in a mostly unsupervised environment. In comparison to an office environment, a WFH environment only limits team interactions to the daily video conference call and Workplace from Facebook interactions, which cause us to be easily distracted by our parents, spouse, children, mobile games, PC games, pets, or bed; it is up to us to stay disciplined and ensure work is completed for the day.
So that is how the Biztory team handles WFH arrangements during this movement control period. Is it challenging to WFH, and is it effective? Let’s ask one of our team members, Shayna to share their thoughts and experience.
Q: Is WFH effective?
A: WFH is effective if every team member plays their part. Daily meetings are a must to make sure everyone is on board, then it is basically up to each team member to make sure they complete their tasks on time. Strong coordination is required when team members are not working in the office.
Q: Is it challenging to WFH during this period?
A: Yes and no. No, because Biztory already has a flexible work arrangement and we had a home-based work system previously, so we are just going into remote work mode. Work-wise is not an issue.
Yes, because remote work arrangement is an attractive work arrangement where you can work from anywhere such as Starbucks or a cool café as long as you have your laptop and internet connection, but this is a different situation where there is an MCO and anxiety because of COVID-19, the weak economy and being locked indoors.
Taking off from what our team member has shared, there is certainly anxiety surrounding this WFH period whether it is the increasing spread of COVID-19, dwindling economy or restless citizens, we are all in this together; we share the same anxiety that anyone of you might have and we would like to do what we can to alleviate our clients’ business concerns.
If you are our client, we would like you to know that we have extended the usual 7-day grace period to a 30-day grace period if you are due to renew your subscription within the period of 19 March 2020 to 31 March 2020. Our online customer support channels are also operating as usual, and you are more than welcome to reach out to us regarding any concerns you may have on our product and subscription plan.
Biztory would like to remind everyone to maintain good hygiene, stay indoors, and keep your spirits up. We will get through this.
“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napoleon Hill