Five Tips To Keep Your Business On Track During Ramadan
If you live or work in a Muslim country -particularly the UAE- you would have definitely noticed something different happening at this time of the year. This is the month of Ramadan, an important month in the Islamic calendar, a month in which Muslims would typically fast during the day and (often) attend extra, recommended prayers during the evening.
While business hours and public etiquette change during the month, here are five tips to help you keep on track with your enterprise during the change.
1. Work around the fast
The fast begins at the morning prayer time (about 4 a.m.) and goes on till the evening prayers (about 7 p.m.). Not only is that a long time to go without eating and drinking, as the day goes on, it also becomes more challenging to keep operating at 100%.
If you need to arrange meetings or presentations with people who are fasting, try and schedule them for the start of the day (though not too early, I'll explain why in the next point). Try and get your meetings all done by early to mid-afternoon, that way you can be sure you get the best focus and attention from them, without it being too strenuous.
2. Be extra accommodating
Many Muslims will not be getting a regular night sleep in this month. After dinner, there would be social and sporting events organized, friends and family to meet, night prayers, and so on. And after getting to bed at 11 p.m. at the earliest (which -frankly- even I haven't managed to do, and I'm an early sleeper!), there's the pre-fast meal… which means getting up at 3 a.m. to have something light to eat in preparation for the day ahead.
Combine all the above, and early morning starts are difficult, to say the least. A suggestion would be to not have too early a start, and checking-in prior to meetings to ensure they haven't been side-tracked. A lot of people find the first few days to be quite different, so prepare for your perfectly planned schedule to go sideways once in a while.
3. Combine work and social meetings
Ramadan is the probably the most social of months, so make the most of it. There will be lots of networking Iftars (post-fast meal), and these are excellent opportunities to socialize, while getting work done (remember, it's net-work-ing).
In addition, this is a perfect time for you to get valuable face-time with partners, colleagues, suppliers and clients. Get them together for an Iftar, arrange a sheesha gathering, or even better- meet up with the families. It's the time of the year when everyone feels extra hospitable, and sometimes a social dinner with a client or supplier is exactly what is needed.
4. Boost your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Ramadan is the month of charity. There are a number of organizations that will run CSR campaigns in this month, in addition to the excellent work done by not-for-profit organizations such as the Emirates Red Crescent and Dubai Cares. Personally, or as a company, make the effort to get involved: from donating food items, to packing food parcels for distribution, to getting on the road and handing these packages out to needy people. If you don't have an organizational CSR policy in place, what better time to start one?
5. Get involved
There are a lot of things happening in these weeks, so make sure to get out and get involved. Visit the cultural centers to learn more about the local culture, take part in Ramadan-themed activities and events, enjoy the variety of dining experiences, and build and strengthen your relationships. During the days of Eid -at the end of the month- make sure to wish all your close contacts personally. Not just a bulk email newsletter, but a short, personal message or phone call. It is one the biggest celebration in the Islamic calendar, make use of this special time.
While work does tend to slow down a bit during the month of Ramadan, this time of the year is quite unique in terms of what you can accomplish. Make the extra effort, it will help you tremendously- not just professionally, but personally as well.