Business during Ramadan: should we press pause?
As we embark on summer with the blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims in and around the region are adapting to and adjusting their everyday routine. During Ramadan, serviced businesses including schools and offices operate at reduced hours to accommodate fasting employees. Shopping malls and restaurants generally tend to have extended hours in the evenings.
Some restaurants will have special dispensation to stay open during the day to cater for the non-fasting workforce, but they will cover the premise windows and doors for privacy and being mindful of those fasting. Weather conditions of the UAE also pose as a challenge for those observing the holy month with high temperatures and humidity.
It is easy to assume that businesses and their employees work at a slower pace and are less efficient during Ramadan. Contrary to this notion, since many employees are not taking breaks or drinking and eating, they are able to get through a number of tasks within the time allocated.
Business meetings become social events
Additionally, most business deals are finalised during Ramadan as people socialise during Iftar, often proving to be the best time to conduct business. In sectors like retail, consumer activities significantly increase and, on an average, is 30 per cent higher than other months of summer.
However, Ramadan does have a seasonality effect on some business. Retail sectors usually observe an upswing during the season. On the other hand, the travel and hospitality sector see more traction at the end of Ramadan for the Eid holidays.
The construction sector and various other labor-orientated sectors may be most affected by reduced working hours since time is significantly bankable and the success of projects is dependent on the availability of laborers.
Business lunches are often replaced by meetings during Suhoor, the meal after Iftar, or the breaking of the fast. If you find yourself invited to an Iftar itself, this is a sign of trust and friendship, so accepting is advised. Building strong relationships is one of the keys to successful business in the region.
Management needs training for Ramadan
But, how do businesses maintain the same relationships in the workplace when operational hours are reduced or are on pause?
This is where management consultancies come to the forefront. The first step is for a business to understand the requirement of seeking external guidance and support from a Subject Matter Expert from the consultancy.
The internal awareness of problem areas and need for improvement is more critical and does not always necessary correlate to Ramadan season. With shorter operational hours, senior management can allocate additional hours towards learning the ropes of improving management skills from a consulting firm.
A management consultancy will provide the businesses’ senior management team with tips and tricks to make the best use of Ramadan hours that will help guide them in identifying ways to generate income during Ramadan and summer, tackle areas of concern and guide them in maintaining a revenue generation system.
While businesses slow down and the need to press pause on operations becomes unnecessary, management advice and guidance from a consultancy will only contribute to a fruitful result that compares similarly to regular operational months.
Nayef Shahin, Founder and Managing Partner at Metis Management Consultancy