Working amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Staying productive in producing sustainable palm oil (Part 1)
The agriculture industry is quite a conservative one – some might call it old fashioned. With the onset of COVID-19, many of our employees have had to adapt to radical changes in their jobs. Work from Home (WFH) measures and the rapid adoption of technology are just a few new elements to our work as a result.
Hear from some of our employees who are currently WFH. They share how they are coping and managing work effectively. *Note: All photos were taken pre-COVID-19.
Lilianawati, Head of HR Central Business Services
“Employees’ health and safety is extremely essential for the Company during the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of WFH for employees begins with preparing and establishing the relevant procedures for all departments within the Company. We also identify the essential roles which still need to be carried out from the office, and provide masks for them and gloves specifically for those working with paper. With the Building Management, we work together in checking body temperature, keeping regular records of employees’ health, providing hand sanitisers and spraying the building with disinfectant on a weekly basis. We also work closely with our IT department to manage our digital infrastructure during WFH.”
Wirendro Sumargo, Head of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Department
“I used to work directly in the field. Working from home, I am challenged to be more creative and flexible in the way I do things, so that I can still get the job done. There are dozens of villages spread throughout Sumatra and Kalimantan that we have targeted for our programmes; so there’s no compromise, we have to keep working. But I always tell my team members that safety comes first, and that we should be able to work safely from the comfort of our home while completing the given tasks. The bright side is that now I have more opportunities to watch my kids grow and play with them during breaks at home.”
Arif Zulkarnain, Occupational Health, Safety and Environment
“I have worked at this company since 1994 and for the first time I am WFH. During WFH, the most noticeable difference is online communication. Besides that, most things operate normally. For me, making sure our employees are healthy and safe is the most important thing right now. The virus is something invisible, and it isn’t just the doctors’ and nurses’ responsibility to fight it, but everyone’s. If we take care of our personal hygiene and follow the procedures, it will reduce the spread. We can break the COVID-19 chain.”
Yong Khing Siong, Head of Specialty Fats, Trading
“One of the most significant aspects from my job is attending meetings. Today we are relying on technology to communicate with each other though it surely has a different vibe. It feels a bit like new territory for me when joining a video call without putting on our office uniform as we work from home. Working during this quarantine period means fewer interactions with colleagues and fewer chances to share ideas. We must also consider additional days are needed now for processing documents and understand that other related parties also practice WFH. I really miss seeing my colleagues in the office and look forward to being able to do it soon.”
R. Bhuvaneswary, General Manager, Trading, Gemini Edibles and Fats
“Being in trading, the nature of my role allows me to transition to WFH quite easily. The time I save on commuting now, I can use more productively for work, and respond to emails and text messages more quickly. We are also using a lot more technology now, which I enjoy because I can organise myself a lot better. One downside is that I sometimes lose the sense of difference between working hours and after office hours now since I’m at home. But I find it rewarding to be in the edible oils business, an essential industry, and being able to help provide supplies to customers in these difficult times
While some of us are fortunate enough to be able to work from the safety of our homes, that’s not possible for all of those working in an agribusiness like ours. Some jobs still require us to be physically present in the workplace. We salute the dedication of our frontline colleagues and hear how they are managing their work during COVID-19 in Part Two.