Ramazan is fast approaching and for most Muslims living abroad it can be difficult to observe a fast while working in a professional environment. So how does one go about it?
When Telegraph was posed with a question concerning the Islamic month of fasting in their careers advice column from a Muslim living and working abroad, the daily’s work expert Louisa Symington offered her best and honest advice.
“I work in a very small office of 12 people and am the only Muslim. Ramazan is approaching and I’m worried about how I can combine observing the traditional fast, while carrying on all aspects of my day job – which typically involves a lot of client meetings and lunches. I’m new at the firm and as much as I want to do this, I also want to get on and do a good job in the office. How can I put this to my boss and make it work?”
Louisa gave three important points about how to best deal with the matter .
1. Sit down with your bossPHOTO: FRIENDS OFEBONNIE
Before Ramazan starts, sit down with your boss and agree on a plan that will accommodate both your wishes and the needs of your firm.
You need to think about the arrangements you would like to see in place for the next few weeks that will support your observance of Ramadan, so that when you approach your boss, both of you can work around the proposed action plan.
Because the Holy month is traditionally a time we spend with our family and friends, discuss with your boss about your timing. Since UK does not give time off to employees during Ramazan, you could opt for the annual leave allowance.
2. Think about your optionsPHOTO: ONISLAM
Although it’s always best to always approach all religious and cultural matters with your employer beforehand during the hiring process. However, it’s never too late to ask.
During Ramazan sleeping and eating patterns are disrupted and that greatly affects energy and productivity levels at work.
You should keep the following options in mind:
– Work earlier in the day so you can finish your work early and head home before your energy levels really start to flag.
– Organise important meetings and conferences in the morning, when you are most alert.
– Take short breaks in between work; to pray and get some fresh air, so that you do not exhaust yourself during work hours.
– Try working part-days by working in the morning and afternoons at the office and working from home after breaking your fast.
Lunches with clients might prove to be a challenge because there will be food and drinks. Discuss with your boss that you will not be able to eat at such meetings and if you would prefer to either attend and remain fasting, or not attend at all.
3. Keep your boss in the loopPHOTO: EHOW
Once you have decided your action plan based on the above combination, sit with your line manager and discuss how things may work for you.
Bear in mind that your working plan shows how it will best suit your role and fulfill your clients’ needs. But remember, your proposed working pattern for that time period might not be compatible with your firm’s business requirements and that they are not obliged to follow your plan.
While you will be trying to present a plan that works to fit yours needs as well as the firm’s, your boss will be presenting other business dynamics which may affect how much flexibility he or she can offer. It’s critical to note that your boss can say no to you for business reasons, but not due to your faith or observance of Ramazan.
Once you and your boss have worked around the ideal plan and established a way forward, here are a few things you should do to ensure things are smooth sailing throughout the month:
– Meet with your boss daily, keep the communication going and discuss how the arrangement is working for you. Make a practical plan for each week ahead and adapt to changing schedules.
– Do not take a back seat and miss on opportunities. Be assertive, meet new clients, take on new projects.
– Open up to your colleagues, talk about what you’re doing and why it’s important to you. Exchange ideas and be open to questions, let it be a learning experience for them.