Comment | By Wong Chun Wai

Too much time on their hands

An idle mind are the devil’s workshop, but idle time is the bane of the boss’ existence, much to the peril of the employee.

AFTER five days of the movement control order, the average Malaysian office worker has found out that working away from the office doesn’t amount to escaping their bosses.

It is fast developing into a “plague” as workers now have to deal with their bored bosses operating from home.

Most of us agree that if bosses are busy at the office, they would be kept occupied with their endless meetings, business meals with associates, golf with politicians, and entertainment with clients.

These are called essential services – to keep clients happy.

But as the days have gone by, going online has become a virtual nightmare for many.

Just when we thought we could sit in front of our laptop with our ears plugged into Spotify, we are being told we have to “look presentable” even when operating from home.

We might be away from the office, but we’re certainly being watched.

The dress code requirement, even if casual, is a reminder that this isn’t a two-week holiday – work must proceed as normal, only from home.

Since my entire wardrobe is packed with batik shirts, a standard fare these days, I just can’t imagine myself sitting in my room in a batik shirt dealing with employers.

Let’s admit it, our bosses don’t trust us. Not one bit. So, many of them have insisted that online meetings must start at 9am. Previously, office meetings began at 10am because superiors were stuck in traffic jams, especially if offices are in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Now, this 9am meeting schedule is bad. I’m not sure if it violates the rights of workers. I don’t even know who to ask any more since the Human Resources Minister role has become a revolving door.

Now we can’t even walk away for a teh tarik at the canteen or elsewhere with our colleagues to whine about our politicians and our bosses, in case they buzz us again.

The super-sweet three-in-one teh tarik sachets that we make now at home will kill us with diabetes faster than the Covid 19 virus. This can’t go on for another two weeks. Malaysian workers will turn into zombies.

It’s clear that boredom, and the endless nagging and scolding from the bosses’ spouses, are affecting them. These emotional problems are eating into their brains, like those movies about contagion viruses that we probably don’t want to watch now.

No wonder working class Malaysians have experienced more scolding since the movement control order (MCO) was executed. It’s a chain reaction, bos kena marah kat rumah, bos marah kita lah.

An investment banker friend lamented to me that his clients keep calling him every other hour for advice and decisions since the stock market is in free fall.

He said clients have lost their marbles with the beating their profits have been taking, and the investment in stocks are also seeing red all the way. So harga saham jatuh, kita kena marah pulak. Aduh, nasib kita.

To add to the misery and pressure, Datin No 2 sudah marah because the boss has not gone out since MCO restriction. Datin No 2 sudah buat bising dia lonely.

Then, there is the biggest nightmare – the micro-managing boss who’s digitally illiterate.

The endless WhatsApp texts, FaceTime, online conferencing and calls have little value. These are the bosses who still insist on emergency meetings in the office, even if they’re not in the essential services category. What social distancing?

“What’s not essential? We are going under if we continue like this, of course, it’s an emergency, ” these bosses bark.

Amid coping with the bosses, I also have to deal with the endless texts from friends with messages that look like cut and paste jobs: “Bro, very bored, what are you doing now?” Do I really look like the type who goofs around?

And as a true-blue Penangite, despite having stayed in Kuala Lumpur for close to 30 years, I still crave my nasi kandar, prawn mee and char koay teow. The MCO is literally eating into me with all the kopi tiam closed.

It’s now confirmed that it’s a global conspiracy to force the working class to work 24 hours a day. Trump is right, after all.

And scientists will soon reveal that inactivity, besides work, will make us more susceptible to the virus.

I’ve reached the lowest point of boredom – the proof is watching Sound of Music on Astro at 3pm.

* This is a tongue in cheek piece that is not to be taken literally. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission is too busy tracing fake news.