When MCO means 'must come office'

MAY 6 — So MCO 3.0 (for Selangor) is here. As usual, we’ll await government SOPs, crack our heads over which district lines can be crossed, witness a few people get fined exorbitantly for violations they’re surprised they violated, watch the daily numbers closely, etc. 

I suspect too that once the SOPs appear, more than a few companies will take the usual route to find ways to bend the “maximum-employees-in-office” rules without quite breaking them.

Because do you know what MCO stands for to some bosses and organisations? Must Come Office.

CMCO? Confirm Must Come Office. EMCO? Every day Must Come Office. RMCO? Really Must Come Office.

You get the picture.

One critical reason why our lockdowns are less effective than intended is that there is still a lot of daily, regular and unnecessary movement happening on account of employers cutting every corner possible to get staff back to the office.

WFH is a dirty acronym and, unless the government decrees it, all employees have to be in the office come rain or shine or 20,000 positive daily cases. 

Commuters wearing face masks are pictured at the KLCC LRT station in Kuala Lumpur March 18, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Commuters wearing face masks are pictured at the KLCC LRT station in Kuala Lumpur March 18, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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For such anti-WFH folks, WFH is anathema because they have visions of the staff waking up late, watching Netflix and "pretending" to work. 

I suspect bosses in this category feel literal anxiety not seeing people in the office, even if these same staff can produce and send in hundreds of documents every hour from home.

To say that such leaders have trust issues would be understating things to a fault. For some corporate folks from an earlier generation, being in the office or in a meeting is one and the same as working... and not being physically present is one and the same as shirking.

However, trust in employees is one thing. Contributing to worsening public health and safety during a pandemic is another.

Perhaps the government should actively encourage companies to make WFH arrangements? I’m not holding my breath though.

Because right now, I think the open secret is that most companies see the (previously instituted) “30 per cent employees in office” as the minimum — not the maximum — number of pax they can force back to office, “essential” or not.

Point is, telling most of the staff that they cannot work from home because the government didn’t make it a law is a rather weak take. 

You’d imagine that after more than a year of the pandemic, WFH would be a default for as many departments as possible.

But this simply isn’t the case. 

Says a lot about mentality, doesn’t it?

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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