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Ramadan, a time for business reflection

Companies can respectfully capitalise on the holy month by optimising their operations

ramadam business Rumman Amin/Unsplash
Ramadan is a time of fasting and reflection – but businesses must strive to continue their livelihoods

For Muslims Ramadan is a special time around the world. It is a period of spirituality, tradition and discipline. 

Nevertheless, this month of fasting and reflection has long been intertwined with working lives as families and businesses strive to continue their operations in a way that respects their religious duties and preferences.

In many ways, the changed post-pandemic world is paving the way to a more inclusive, supportive and engaged workplace during the holy month. The shift to all things Zoom and Google Chat supports a rise in virtual engagement.

According to Mohamed El Kandri, a Saudi Arabian entrepreneur, companies are turning to new technologies to enable seamless communication among employees and partners, easing schedules which seek to merge fasting with non-fasting and reduced hours.

Collaboration platforms like Slack and instant messaging can ensure that everyone who needs to know, knows. Employees can be informed in real time about changes to work schedules and deadlines – especially in a remote or globally distributed work environment. And staff can be clear on expectations.

This shift towards virtual workspaces also enhances productivity. Employees can work from the comfort of their own homes and plan their fasting schedules accordingly.

During the holy month, general business productivity naturally slows, weighed by reduced working hours, altered meal schedules and fatigue from fasting. However, companies can respectfully capitalise on this period by optimising their operations.

According to El Kandri, it’s important to offer employees flexible scheduling. For instance, some employees, especially those in IT-related roles, prefer working overnight or starting late in the day.

Companies can also use Ramadan as an opportunity to focus on tasks that are neglected during busier periods, he notes. This may include upskilling, training, and incorporating new working tools or processes. 

Ramadan provides an ideal backdrop for strategic planning and reflection. Amid a slower pace of life and work, businesses can take the time to generate ideas, explore growth avenues and set strategic priorities. 

Volunteers distribute meals at a charity Iftar camp in DubaiReuters/Amr Alfiky
Volunteers distribute meals at a charity Iftar camp in Dubai

Now is the time to dream up that big blue-sky plan. For example, El Kandri’s company, IR4Lab, took the opportunity to launch a pilot project in Ramadan last year that tracks donations using blockchain.

That said, it’s important to be aware of the impact of fasting on employee energy levels and concentration. Leaders should prioritise tasks and assignments, delegating responsibilities to prevent overload and burnout. Quiet spaces should also be allocated for prayer and rest.

Additionally, offering support and encouragement to employees – virtually and in-person – during this period can bolster morale and motivation.

Ramadan is a time of charity, community and connection – these are wonderful things in general, and for business. Take this time to reach out and connect with your customers and partners, perhaps by sending special greetings, offers, or hosting in-person events.

In a pleasing trend, there has been a notable increase in corporate social responsibility initiatives in the Gulf during Ramadan. Companies are using this time to give back to the community through food donation drives, volunteer programmes, and sponsorship of iftar meals for those in need.

These initiatives not only align with the Ramadan spirit of giving and compassion, but can also create links with employees and customers.

Now is also a time to celebrate the cultural richness of the month by organising multicultural events like staff Iftars and sharing educational resources about Ramadan. 

The holy month presents an opportunity to foster a culture of respect and understanding, where businesses can build a more harmonious and open work environment.

Ramadan Kareem.

Alicia Buller is comment editor at AGBI

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