Should office timings be changed during Ramazan?
Amidst a change in meal schedules, increased spirituality (sometimes self-imposed), adherence to daily religious obligations, and gradually increasing somnolence as the month progresses, there are a few characteristics that are specific to the middle class, ‘not so religious for the rest of the year’ employee, working a corporate job or any other job for that matter.
Unexpected individuals are seen sharing spiritual posts on Facebook and browsing websites for the Holy Quran and its translation. Such is the aura of this month and the environment it generates within and around.
When it comes to timings, the employees complain of ‘prolonged’ working hours since they are obviously ‘observing a fast’. The complaint is even more vocal if the working hours are right in the middle of the fast being observed, leaving them with not ‘enough time’ to sleep. Similarly, if timings are more skewed toward sehri or iftar timings, even then it remains to be a point of concern for them.
Regardless, one should salute all those who work in service-based sectors. A doctor, for instance, who might be working as a medical officer in a hospital for a 12-hour shift, especially a night shift duty, would continue doing the same in Ramazan.
“Ramazan or no Ramazan, there isn’t any difference in our working hours” says Dr Shoaib, a resident medical officer at a local cardiac hospital. “What’s more is sometimes we even miss out on sehri and have to delay iftar by an hour or two, especially if a patient shows up in the emergency room, or if you are in the middle of a major surgery. The satisfaction of watching a cured patient and their worried relatives smile at the end pulls us through a tiresome day spent in this noble field”.
When the same remarks were put in front of Momin, a 28-year-old manager in a local advertising agency, he dismisses it by saying,
“You are comparing oranges and apples. Theirs is a noble profession. They chose it themselves. They do it for satisfaction, respect, goodwill, and for the love of mankind. So be it. That’s the reason they get all that satisfaction back in return; sometimes even more. The corporate world on the other hand, is cut-throat competition.”
Mujtaba, 30, a brand manager, who has already locked horns with his seniors, was even more critical of the analysis and comparison with the messiahs.
“My boss gives me monthly, quarterly and annual targets. It means absolutely nothing for them, even if I help him achieve it. Achieving 110% might garner you some praise but it doesn’t matter if I spend six hours or right hours in the office, if I’m fasting or not, feel sleepy or not. At the end of the day, targets are all that matters and it’s my job that is on the line”.
“So you mean to say Ramazan is like any other month for you guys, the wolves of the corporate world?” I teased him.
“No. That is not an appropriate way to sum up. We get a revised schedule, some respite from our seniors and occasional words of concern and compliments, working while observing a fast, especially in these conditions. But the bottom-line remains the same”, he replied calmly, while wiping off the beads of sweat off from his forehead and combing the long beard that he sports.
Asif, 29, another mid-level manager, known as the clown of the office, wasn’t able to meet his targets recently. He was sitting nearby listening to our conversation with a tranquil rejection along with patches of acceptance at the same time.
“Well one thing is for sure” Asif leaned forward, hands clasped and a grave expression on his face, suggestive that a funny remark was to follow, “Don’t get fired in Ramazan at any cost. You see, it spoils your Eid, you lose out on a probable bonus and every other company’s HR is really slow during Ramazan while processing things. They won’t be entertaining your CV. Better wait till the month is over.
Apna tou ek he funda hai, Allah Allah kero aur khamoshi se Ramazan nikaal lo
(I just focus on one thing. Carry on with your routine, pray, and spend this month peacefully).
I will focus on the sehri and iftar deals rather than anything else”, he winked.
While somehow being associated with both the sectors – the corporate and the services sector – I realised that the month of Ramazan carries extreme significance for every individual. Some might think that they are being made to do something extra as compared to others and vice versa, but the truth is that every individual is continuing with the same amount of professional responsibilities and burden that was attached to their working job description, while trying to fulfil their religious obligation of fasting.
Thus it is imperative for them to understand that while doing their jobs and fulfilling the religious obligation, they should never forget the element of helping others and stream-lining issues for those who seek their guidance, since everyone at their level is facing the same load of stress and issues.
While it is important to strike a balance between our office life and personal life, it is even more important to understand that when re-prioritising the two during Ramazan, we also evaluate and ensure that our deeds do not cause distress or misery to those around us, in anyway. Albeit, whether our office timings change or not, we should not make that a factor while observing our fasts.
It might not be easy for us, but if we really follow the guidelines and understand the core objectives of a fast in its true sense, we would realise that just sticking to the basics would be a favour to mankind and a cause of relief, sometimes even happiness, to those around you.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.