Some warning about the lockdown can allow many businesses to adjust their plans for production, deliveries and orders and mitigate the losses
As employees trudge in at 10am instead of 9, an additional hour in bed does is not reflected in more energetic faces. At the beginning of Ramazan, I eagerly anticipated a shorter, more productive, work day as people came in, did their work and left. After all, I am a huge proponent of the four-day work week and its benefits: cut out the unproductive unnecessary hours that employees have to spend in the office and watch them become more productive workers. The idea has gained so much popularity that many MNCs, including Unilever, are trying this out in some of their offices. Moreover, working from home during the pandemic has led many companies to consider flexible timings and move away from the drudgery of 9-5 office routines.
However, I was heavily disappointed as it became clear that the predominant feeling was one of doing even less in the given time. Perhaps it is on account a lack of caffeine or proper nutrition that many workers have to deal with during this time of the year, but productivity has dropped drastically. A quantifiable example of this lack of productivity was the hour long prayer break that some employees took. While the company obviously sanctions prayer breaks, employees used this time to take a longer break from work itself bringing the number of productive hours close to four. Moreover, the strict iftar deadline, at around 6:30pm, means that no one is willing or able to stick around past 5pm because of the traffic mess around that time.
Even some essential businesses such as the packaging industry have had to halt production due to a lack of labour willing to work during the holidays.
Human resource problems aside, Ramazan and the holidays mean that businesses across the country have less time to interact with customers whilst fitting in the same work that they did in a longer period of time into a shorter one. Meetings with customers or vendors are continuously delayed as they observe their own Ramazan timings as well as work from home in some cases. This obviously results in a loss of business that could have been capitalised on in any other month. The Eid holidays will cause further supply chain delays that will be dealt with after the holidays.
Even some essential businesses such as the packaging industry have had to halt production due to a lack of labour willing to work during the holidays. This will obviously cause shortages in the weeks after Eid along with a lack of packaging during the Eid week.
While the coronavirus and Ramazan are both important considerations that will inevitably impact businesses, there needs to be a more pragmatic approach: the government, the companies and the individuals all need to ensure that the already hard-hit businesses do not suffer needlessly. Some warning about the lockdowns can allow many businesses to adjust their plan for production, deliveries and orders and mitigate the losses.
The writer graduated from the Cornell University in New York and works as a business strategist at Roshan Packages Limited