Friday 12 April 2013

Musings: Contrasts (Nothing to do with politics)

I'll be working this weekend.  Not that I haven't done this before, weekends, public holidays, even there was one time when I was on sick leave they came and dragged me to work because there was no one else who could do what I was doing at the time.  But this weekend cannot be avoided.  Breakfast and lunch are provided, but other than that, your time is FOC.

The work culture in Malaysia is slightly different from what I am used to in my previous work experience, where every minute was chargeable, every trip was chargeable, every phone call was accounted for.  Back then we had a daily time-sheet that detailed out every single minute spent, to be reviewed on a weekly basis, and you are allocated 10 minutes each day to complete your time-sheet, which falls under "administration". 

You are expected to fill up the 7 hours with productive work, slacking off is not tolerated, and subject to a sounding off.  Lunch with clients are put under "entertaining", and going to the washroom is not accommodated in the time-sheet, as that is not considered a "productive activity".  We even talk about work around the coffee machine - that falls under "troubleshooting".

Other than the coffee and candy vending machines, there was no such thing as breakfast and lunch provided, although there was a cafeteria on the top floor.  Your food, your own responsibility, although my work colleagues were kind and generous when dealing with the sole girl in the team, a fresh graduate out of an American college, and a Malaysian to boot.  They also made fun of what they termed as my "American outlook", although I eventually picked up some understanding of British humor and lingo.

I would normally have a cucumber or peanut butter jelly sandwich for lunch, which I would eat at my desk, while reading up manuals.  Sometimes I'd have an apple instead of sandwich.  Working through lunch was something I used to do and has become a habit that I do it even now ... 

Here in Malaysia, such a meal would not be considered a proper lunch.  You can hardly see people in the office during lunch hour, in my case 13:00 to 14:00.  And here, you are served food at every occasion.  Once, one of our senior executives from London came down to visit the local office, and after three days of meeting our major clients, he confided in me that he had eaten more in those three days than he had in the previous three months.

Being careful not to offend the hosts, he ate everything that he was offered, and since we scheduled him to meet 4 clients a day, that was 4 servings of nasi lemak or bihun,or what-not a day for three days, not to mention the breakfast, lunch and dinner.


  1. You must have a very interesting job. I envy you.

    However, being a lady, I think you might face difficulties in what you're doing now, if you are married and having kids, sumore. A blogger at that too. Does your employer knows?


    1. There's nothing to envy. It has its ups and downs like any other job. I am single, no kids, but I am thinking of adopting a kitten and I don't really spend that much time blogging. As for my bosses, as long as my work performance is not affected, they don't really care what I do in my own time. I am quite good at what I do too, if I may say so myself ;P