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PKT Logistics group chief executive and managing director Datuk Michael Tio wants his work force of 356 on Facebook.

He reckons that since separate email accounts for personal use and work are possible, the social networking website should be similarly utilised for improved communication and efficiency.

It is a blisteringly hot Saturday afternoon at the company’s sprawling headquarters in Shah Alam, Kuala Lumpur, and a sprightly Tio has just done some Yoga and running with his workmates at the gym upstairs.

It’s about taking control and knowing what’s happening in every facet of the business, he says, pushing the door into his spacious two-room office.

Award trophies and certificates deck the first hall, and the second room where he works houses an eight-seater conference table facing a flat screen on the wall, and so.

Tio keeps his workspace relatively spartan; just his laptop and some snacks.

PKT’s public Facebook account flashes on and displays a whopping 15,091 likes, which is a rather unusual high for a corporate business that’s not in the retail nor entertainment industry.

In fact, PKT leverages on its online following for branding and promotion purposes, even job advertising as the responses are quicker.

Tio garners interest via student talks and organising field trips to his office headquarters.

To date, throngs of secondary school and tertiary students, in particular those from politecnic institutions, have visited the warehouse and gladly “like” the company page for a free tee.

“I want a 15,000 man strong sales force in the next two years,” Tio says.

He hopes to achieve what he calls the “Milo phenomenon, where the beverage company trucks have shown up at events and schools and branded the chocolate drink so well that kids remained faithful to it well into adulthood.”

That’s the ensuing result he desires from the branding efforts, some of which include good human interest angles.

Earlier this month, the social media team posted up a tear-jerking video of a proposal that took place in the office.

Staffers hid a female colleague’s significant other (not from PKT) in a room when she returned to her desk from lunch and found on it helium balloons, confetti and other memorabilia from her relationship.

He emerges, she weeps tears of myrth, co-workers cheer, and amid the excitement, there is a whisper of a yes.

It’s romantic alright, and a warming glimpse into the support system and ties that bind in that office.

Internally, every staff is wired via a closed network and every single department is connected, even security.

“See you at the gym tomorrow,” Nawaraj, a young Nepalese guard posts on Tio’s “wall”.

Easy banter and process updates are happening all the time.

“Their being on Facebook does not impair efficiency. In fact, it enhances workflow,” Tio says. “Efficiency has gone up 30% since implementing social media and these recreational facilities.”

A quick tour of the office building is a further insight into Tio’s mind and his motivation in creating a relaxing environment for his employees.

People stay if they like the place, he says, gesturing at the three-acre pineapple plantation flanking the three-building compound, where quarterly farming is done by dozens of willing officers.

The harvest goes to clients.

Tio leads the way into a floor lounge where staff can kick back on sofas and help themselves to the bar snacks.

There are no accessibility issues here; workers from every rank are entitled to a breather.

An honest system governs the place; there’s a price list and in the permanent absence of an appointed cashier, munchers deposit their dues into a little wooden chest on the counter.

“People who work for me improve their health,” he says in reference to Gymax, the company annual weight loss competition that rewards the first three winners with RM10,000 each for a trip for four to any Asean destination.

In their first season, 26 of 29 challengers participated and seven achieved their ideal weight goals.

Only three persons gained weight, but overall, it was a heartening result for candidates considering the fact that the competition stretched over the Christmas and Chinese New Year holidays.

“We’re seeing less medical certificates than ever before,” says Tio, who finds inspiration from travelling and checking out foreign sites.

Once, he’d visited a major warehouse in Japan and found it strange that all the workers looked like housewives.

“We found out that they were indeed housewives, as their employer had worked out a schedule for homemakers who wanted to work part-time. Similarly, we’ve made arrangements for mothers in our office. There’s a plan for young mothers and another for mature ones whose children have grown up,” he explains.

Ultimately, Tio wins by capitalising on the people element in his business.

“To stand out, we make our concept strong. Everything we have implemented works for that purpose.”

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