I was reading a message from a friend who is a teacher. One of her students said to her, “Madam, it’s weird to think that what is happening today will be in the history books. In the future, people could ask me, what life was like during this time, just like how we would ask our grandparents about the war.”
Indeed, 2020 is proving to be a weird, scary, confusing and stressful time. COVID-19, the diseases caused by the novel coronavirus, has disrupted the way we live, work and socialise.
But we as humans are blessed with the ability to quickly adapt and thrive even in the most difficult situations. Businesses too are having to adapt to the new reality COVID-19 presents.
As a company, Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food has put in place measures as to ensure the safety of our employees and the continuity of our business. Food and water security is of priority. We produce both.
Palm oil is a key ingredient in so many food staples, and our Pristine brand drinking water plays an important role in countries like Indonesia where clean drinking water from the tap is not common.
Beyond food, palm-based oleochemicals play an important role in personal hygiene products like hand wash detergent and even sanitisers.
Ensuring the continued production of these essentials is extremely important.
Caring for ourselves
Our company has progressively implemented policies to increase awareness amongst our employees and reduce the risk of virus spread, such as:
- Regular communication and updates to all employees on in-country COVID-19 measures
- Work from home wherever possible. If not possible, A/B team segregation and restricted access to operations – only essential people are allowed onsite
- Temperature checks and health screening at work, as well as handling procedure for employees with symptoms
- Enhanced cleaning measures and social distancing in all common areas in the workplace
- Suspending all international and non-essential business travel and strongly discouraging personal travel
- Providing tips for maintaining good health and hygiene, and guidance for sick employees to stay at home
These measures, coupled with the fact that the palm oil sector has been recognised by the Indonesian government as a strategic industry, has allowed our company to continue operating throughout the pandemic.
Caring for others
I am proud to work for a company that contributes to ensuring the wellbeing not just of our employees, but of the larger community as well. Since the pandemic began, we have been supporting the wider community in fighting the virus.
As a company we are providing medical support and contributing supplies (masks, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and other essential materials) to various organisations in need, in China and Indonesia.
In Jakarta, we are supplying our Pristine bottled water to Wisma Atlet, which is currently being used as an emergency hospital to handle COVID-19 patients. On our estates around Indonesia, women are coming together to make face masks for our workers and surrounding communities, and efforts are being made to disinfect common areas.
In Singapore, our employees took part in a nation-wide effort, volunteering to distribute hand sanitiser.
We have also seen acts of kindness towards each other. Personally, I was touched when a team of our employees initiated fund raising for our essential staff, such as security and cleaners, who have kept the business running in Jakarta, to get them vitamins and also extra income. Since then, through the Eka Tjipta Foundation and Tzu Chi Foundation, the company has also set up an official donation portal that helps these frontliners and workers in need, as well as for getting medical tools for our health practitioners all around Indonesia.
My new normal – working smarter from home
I have been working from home for about a month.
It is definitely a new experience for me. It can get lonely sometimes, especially as I am so used to the vibrant and lively atmosphere of my team in Thamrin. Not to mention the struggle with wifi connection that goes up and down. In a way, this situation has helped me to be thankful for small little things that I take for granted under normal circumstances.
I am very thankful my job allows me to be able to work from home and be with my family. I am grateful for the quick assistance and solutions from our IT team that help us work safely from home. I also think of my colleagues braving this situation every day, especially the ones who continue to go to the field and plants, to ensure our food and drink supply is not disrupted.
Will it get worse? Will this be our new normal? We can’t say for sure. But I truly believe that we can overcome it, together.
Stay positive, stay healthy, and stay safe.
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