Marijn sent this email to all his Quintiq colleagues around the world, telling them what happens over Chinese New Year in Malaysia. We liked it so much that we decided to share it here.


Gong Xi Fa Cai! Do you remember those two weeks over Christmas and New Year when you received fewer emails, there were no big meetings and no major deadlines, and the office was quieter than usual? Do you remember that epic traffic jam you had to get through to make the dreaded last-minute trip to the supermarket on December 24th?

Well, something even bigger is about to happen in Malaysia. The Year of the Snake begins on February 10th and with it comes the three Chinese New Year planning puzzles:
The CNY Workforce Puzzle Most of our colleagues in the GDC are Malaysian Chinese, and therefore celebrate Chinese New Year.

The official public holiday takes place on February 10th, 11th and 12th, while the traditional New Year celebration period extends from February 10th all the way to February 24th - that's fifteen days in total. (Each day has its own rituals, from eating with family on day one of the lunar month to throwing oranges in ponds, lakes, rivers and oceans on day fifteen.)

Of course, the GDC will be adequately staffed during this time, thanks to our colleagues who are based in Kuala Lumpur or aren't celebrating CNY; they'll be working extra hard to cover any capacity gaps. But, you may still notice a slight drop in a response rates, particularly in week seven. Now you know how we feel over Christmas and New Year!
The CNY Logistics Puzzle Just like Christmas and New Year, CNY is the time to catch up (and put up?) with family. Imagine what happens when millions of people all want to drive home to see parents and grandparents at the same time... Our colleagues will be braving the worst traffic jams of the year to return to their hometowns across Malaysia, their cars laden with hampers, mandarin oranges, and cash-filled red envelopes knows as ang pao.

The exodus is expected to start on February 8th or 9th this year, and many won't return to work until February 18th (week eight).

There will be, as always, rumors about short cuts; trunk roads, and bridges you'll be warned to avoid; alleged optimal times to leave KL (usually around 4am), but it always ends up taking twice the time it would at any other time of year. The only solution to this logistics puzzle is to stay in the city and enjoy the unusually empty malls and traffic-free streets.
The CNY Production Planning Puzzle For Malaysia's restaurants, supermarkets, and even the average family, CNY means ramping up production to cater for a grueling 15-day itinerary of eating and drinking. Misjudging demand can mean either hungry customers and guests or starting the New Year with tons of mandarin oranges that no one will want to eat again until 2014.

At home, there are special symbolic meals to be made, cookies to be baked, hampers and big red boxes of mandarins to be bought and distributed, and the list goes on. Many of our colleagues will also buy new outfits (and maybe new underwear, too), have their hair cut, and clean their houses... it's important to get a fresh start to the New Year.

All of this takes time and planning. There are bottlenecks to overcome, disruptions to handle, and costs spiral out of control. But, that's all part of the fun.
While I get ready for the festivities (and figure out how I'm going to cope for a week with less than half a team), I'd like to share the festive spirit with you - here's a Chinese New Year tune to cheer up your day. (I've heard this playing in the mall every day for the past month; it's stuck in my head and now it's stuck in yours, too.)

Read more about the food, rituals and customs in Malaysia or drop an email to one of your Malaysian Chinese colleagues - I'm sure they'd be more than happy to answer your questions. Every country has its own take on Chinese New Year... . Contact our colleagues in China to find out how their CNY celebrations differ from those in Malaysia.

And finally, Gong Xi Fa Cai! I look forward to working with you in The Year of the Snake.

Marijn van Helvoort
Team Manager
Workforce WP Team