Over the weekend, I saw the following tweet from the star, which I attributed to be either a badly timed April Fools joke, or a typo error:
Friday and Saturday are weekend rest days for Johor from Jan 1. What’s your view? #Johornewweekend
— The Star (@staronline) November 23, 2013
Surely, a state like Johor that was trying to attract investment for the Iskandar region from companies like Frost and Sullivan, would not make such a catastrophic error. Alas, upon further checking, I found the information to be true.
My initial reaction was that this was a truly bad idea, one that would have severe repurcussions not just on the state economy but on the Malaysian economy as a whole, I also felt a sense that maybe this was the start of more ‘Islamic’ Malaysia. However, after ruminating over the weekend about this and other more serious topics (like would Ryan Giggs play in the Man Utd vs. Cardiff Match on Sunday), I had a slight change of heart–though not enough to think that this is a good idea, just enough to think that this is a ‘less’ bad one.
First some context, I work in IT, as you know. One of the beautiful things about my job is it’s global nature, I go into the office just 2 days a week, and work the other 3 days from home. I have many late night teleconferences, usually from 8pm-10pm (9pm-11pm during daylight savings) and I work people from nearly all over the world, including the US, Europe and a vast majority of Asia-Pacific countries where we have an IT footprint, including Pakistan, Oman, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Australia and of course Malaysia.
So I understand when ‘foreigners’ complain about the list of holidays we have in Malaysia, that averages between 18-20 depending on which state you’re from, and 21 if Malaysia wins the Suzuki Cup (remember that one!)…more importantly I understand the difficulty of working with people when you have no time over-lap with–particularly the US, since either someone has to wake up early, or someone has to sleep late in order for Malaysians and Americans to be on the same call together.
So think about it–if I have an early Tuesday call with the US, the call is usually either 6am or 7am, which means it’s 7pm or 8pm in Houston–but on a different day. How cool is that? The amazing thing about this arrangement though, is that after my call, and my US counterpart goes to sleep, I can work an entire day before he gets into the office on their Tuesday morning–what that translates to is that from his point of view, I instantly worked over the night, and it works vice-versa as well. So in essence having these situations where the timing doesn’t overlap can be made to work to your advantage, since in essence he and I can exchange work back and forth–and essentially work 2 weeks in just 1.
However, days are a bit different. I’ve worked on a Pakistani project before, and I’ve even been to Karachi (which is quite beautiful and not as dangerous as people make it out to be). Even in a country founded because they were Muslim–Pakistan practices the usual schedule of working from Monday to Friday and resting on Saturday and Sunday.
Recently though, I found myself doing a bit of work for our Joint Venture in Oman, now that’s a country that rest on Friday and Saturday and works Sunday through Thursday. To be honest, it wasn’t that big of a deal–sure you need to squeeze in that last meeting on Thursday, but I didn’t really feel that it was that big of a inconvenience. Of course this is a project I wasn’t heavily involved in, it takes up just over 1/2 a day every week–so at that rate, it’s not hard to see why having less overlap would be an issue.
I still wonder though, if the guys who are going to be working at the Frost office in Iskandar–would they see it as an issue, for an Industry observer and Sector analyst to be working different days than the Industries and Sectors they’re supposed to be observing and analyzing? I wonder if Malaysians from other parts of Malaysia would find it difficult to work in Johoreans due to the different working days, as it literally means that no one could work with Johor on Friday–and Johor would be working alone on Sunday. How can Johor then run an IT outsourcing outfit from Iskandar–if the programmers don’t work the same days as their customers?