Insight - Firms optimistic of WFH revocation

MMC operates Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd, while MMC together with Westports Holdings Bhd, are acquiring a 50% stake each in Boustead Cruise Centre.“These two businesses were badly affected by the MCO, ’’ said MMC group managing director Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh.(pic)

WITH the work-from-home (WFH) order revoked for factories, companies are cautiously looking forward to better days with their workforce all back to work at their facilities.

While they welcome the positive impact, they are also more prepared, should there be further disruptive events following the disastrous Covid-19 pandemic.

“The impact on our productivity and bottom line will be positive; the boost to our supply line will improve sales and after-sales service too, ’’ said Proton Holdings Bhd.

File pic shows Proton car productionFile pic shows Proton car production

Over a year of multiple WFH periods, Proton has learnt that through the adoption of video conferencing tools, its workers can be just as efficient if they are given the correct tools and motivation to succeed.

The pandemic has reduced the need to travel unnecessarily, and increased the self-sufficiency of many departments at Proton where many processes have been streamlined.

Despite experiencing minimal sales and disruptions in production during the movement control order (MCO) period last year, Proton did not cut salaries or introduce redundancies among its workforce.

Throughout 2020, there were delays in the shipment of parts and vendors’ supply lines were affected by shutdowns due to emergence of Covid-19 clusters.

This really affected production volumes at Proton, for new car parts, spares and other consumables required to maintain a vehicle.

“We are still playing catch-up in many areas of the business, a situation which is exacerbated by the strong booking numbers for many of our models, ’’ said Proton.

The easing of the MCO will have positive impact on MMC Corp Bhd especially in its airport and cruise terminal businesses.

MMC operates Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd, while MMC together with Westports Holdings Bhd, are acquiring a 50% stake each in Boustead Cruise Centre.

“These two businesses were badly affected by the MCO, ’’ said MMC group managing director Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh.

Business is also expected to gradually return to normal at the five ports operated by MMC.

On the economy, “the government needs to kick start the economy quickly by making the right investments that will provide jobs for the people, ’’ added Che Khalib.

As Guan Chong Bhd is part of the essential services sector, it was allowed to maintain its operations to ensure that cocoa ingredients were delivered in a timely manner.

Grinding operations at Guan Chong are also highly automated, thus reducing the reliance on manual labour.

Still, it hopes that the government will increase accessibility to labour, as well as spur development of local talent.

“We also hope for more tax incentives, ’’ said Guan Chong managing director and CEO, Brandon Tay.

As a major, homegrown exporter of cocoa ingredients, Guan Chong has to expand overseas to regions like Africa, Europe and South America.

This is in order to penetrate key overseas markets and better compete with the large international players.

More tax incentives would allow Guan Chong to have a larger capital base to fund its overseas expansion and achieve long term sustainable growth.

For Mah Sing Group Bhd, this cessation of the WFH order will help to expedite its operations which can be run in full force with effective communication.

This includes its operations at its sales galleries which are always ready to welcome homebuyers.

However, it is alert to preventing infections and the occurrence of new clusters at workplaces.

Mah Sing hopes that the Government would extend the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) 2021 until year end.

It also hopes the government will continue working with financial institutions to relax lending requirements to boost home ownership, especially for first time homebuyers, said Mah Sing CEO Datuk Ho Hon Sang.(pic below)

The HOC was announced in June, last year, under the Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara (Penjana), with the deadline of May 31,2021.

UEM Sunrise Bhd believes that some leeway and incentives to purchase through the HOC will spur more house-buying activities, said CEO Sufian Abdullah.

Property developers had to make drastic price adjustments to their planned launches, and sell current products with double digit rebates.

The second HOC had helped, as seen in the uptick in sales in the third and fourth quarters of 2020.

As the strict lockdown in March last year saw the work sites and sales galleries of UEM Sunrise shuttered for many months, it had pivoted its marketing strategies digitally.

But there was no noticeable drop in the productivity of its office-based staff, as it had regular check-ins and virtual engagements with them.

Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd expects a 15% to 20% growth this year in top and bottom lines.

“It is really good as it is back to normal, ’’ said Serba Dinamik CEO Datuk Karim Abdullah, who hopes the government can soon roll out as many contracts as possible.

Even though video conferencing has served Ancom Bhd well over the past many months, nothing beats in-person or face-to-face interactions for more delicate and critical matters.

“We expect greater efficiency at the management level, ’’ said Ancom group CEO Lee Cheun Wei, adding that Ancom remains vigilant and is in full compliance with the standard operating procedures in place.

Ancom is a diversified group involved in manufacturing and sale of agricultural and industrial chemicals as well as in sectors relating to public health and hygience, polymer, logistics, information technology and media.

Techbond Group Bhd expects a boost to its productivity as a whole, given that everyone is focused and fully recharged to push the group further forward, said deputy managing director Lee Seh Meng.

With the right measures in place to prevent the spread of infections, Techbond, a manufacturer and supplier of industrial adhesives, will comply with stringent SOPs to ensure that its operations run smoothly.

Noting the recovery in the purchasing managers’ index, Leon Fuat Bhd is also “seeing an increase in demand for steel material, ’’ said executive director Calvin Ooi.

Leon Fuat is involved in the trading and processing of mainly flat and long steel products; it had recently ventured into the manufacturing of welded steel pipes.

Following the gradual loosening of restrictions from middle of last year, Central Global Bhd had ramped up production which has returned to full capacity as of late last year, said executive chairman Datuk Faisal Zelman.

Central Global is a specialist in industrial tapes and label stock manufacturing; its construction activities are mostly in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia.

Volcano Bhd, a manufacturer of nameplates and plastic injection moulded parts, expects WFH to remain a part of work culture where companies will provide laptops and perhaps, printers, for WFH in the event of future pandemics.

“Volcano benefits as the economy rebounds and the market for appliances/electronic and electrical products continues to grow; all these also benefit its expansion plans, ’’ said managing director Datuk Ch’ng Huat Seng.

Companies are still mindful of the Covid-19 infections but they soldier on, taking the utmost care, on hopes that the vaccination programme will work well.

Yap Leng Kuen is the former editor of StarBiz. The views expressed here are her own.

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