Ramadan is due to commence around the 13th of April this year. This is one of the most significant months of the Islamic calendar and is observed by practising Muslims across the world. Ramadan lasts for a lunar month and during this time many Muslims refrain from eating or drinking (including water) from sunrise to sunset. At this time of year, that can mean between 15 to 16 hours a day, which gets longer as the month progresses, and daylight hours increase. Understandably, this can impact on productivity and concentration.
Whilst some Muslims may take time off work during Ramadan, many will have little choice but to continue working. If you look at the legal sector, not many organisations will have procedures in place to alleviate the impact, for example, trials and proofs are set months in advance and will have to continue regardless.
So, here are a few handy hints on how to support your Muslim colleagues during Ramadan:
1. Flexible work arrangements. I don’t just mean tweaking the hours at the beginning or end of the day. Speak to your colleagues and ask what works best for them. Some might prefer a siesta between 2 and 4?
2. Ask how you can support them by offering to redistribute the workload. For example, they may wish to have less client contact but do more admin or work on short pieces of work that require short periods of concentration.
3. Not all Muslims will fast. Some will simply choose not to, for others, exemptions will apply. It’s ok to be curious and ask, just be sensitive and open minded. Don’t presume.
4. Don’t be slighted if during Zoom meetings their camera or audio is turned off more frequently. They may be very tired, dressed in traditional clothing for praying or have a thumping headache from caffeine withdrawal. After the meeting, check up on their well-being.
5. Join in with the festivities. You don’t need to fast, but you could ask to join in with the fast opening one evening and share your ideas for what you will eat.
6. Set up a WhatsApp group and send encouraging messages.
7. Ask about their plans for Eid, the celebration which marks the end of Ramadan. Be mindful that their plans maybe a little unpredictable, for a number of reasons, including the uncertainty of when Ramadan will end.
Lastly, there is much more to Ramadan than fasting alone. During Ramadan Muslims will supply cooked food and essentials to those in need, pray in abundance (during the day and sometimes throughout the night) and they will donate money to charity. A little awareness, compassion and acknowledge of their efforts and sacrifices will not go unnoticed.
If you’d like further guidance on Ramadan and how best to incorporate it into your workplace, please get in touch.