FEBRUARY 2 — Seeing my social media come alive this week as people got more excited than they had been in a long time to celebrate the Lunar New Year was great.
My only complaint is there weren't enough tiger jokes but so long as everyone was happy and enjoying the festivities, there'll be other things to laugh about.
What isn't a laughing matter is what will wait for people once they go back to work.
I am tired of looking at the highway just metres from my house being constantly busy and traffic jams returning like the Fast and Furious franchise, interminable and never ending.
In the same way public transport is neglected to boost car ownership, it seems the government cares more about office space landlords than encouraging work from home initiatives.
Speaking of work, Malaysians do not seem to understand the notion of productivity, often equating it with hours worked.
The reality is the whole notion of work is broken. In my continued tirade on “things we should have learned from the pandemic” that could probably fill columns for the whole year, here's what we should have learned about work.
1. Meetings are often unnecessary and can be replaced with an email, and if they are necessary they can usually be shortened by 90 per cent.
2. People can actually get work done at home though there are some, notably the people who can't deal with isolation, who actually like being in the office.
3. We really should let people have the choice between staying at home or going into the office.
4. No one misses the long commute to work and all the time and money spent on it, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or owns office space.
There was a tweet that went viral where the owner of a law firm (how surprising) extolled the benefits of waking up at 4am and working past 6pm to “gain” up to nine hours of extra time to work.
Here's another thing we should have learned from the pandemic: that neither work nor money can buy you good health.
There's also that little thing about how insurance companies are still not providing coverage for Covid-19, last I checked.
I think it's time workers unionise. It's also time for the Employment Act to be revamped to cover all workers and not have certain bits apply to only those earning below a certain threshold.
We're really not doing enough for workplace safety as well; allowing workers to go back to the office without improving ventilation and mandating vaccines is just as irresponsible as letting construction workers work without safety protocols.
It is fine if people do not need their work to have meaning, that it is simply something to pay the bills or fund their true passion. That is an honest and pragmatic view of work.
What is not fine is that any job is bereft of dignity or regard to health and safety. If there's one real thing we should all take away from this pandemic is salaried workers deserve a lot better than they got and should be getting.
We cannot keep allowing our future and livelihoods to be dictated by the few who rely on the many to keep them in a life of leisure.
May 2022 be the year where Malaysian workers learn to be as fierce as this year's zodiac animal, and remember that they too deserve to roar.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.