There have been many other reasons that made all of us welcome this move. For me too.
Back to the office in the middle of the city (which comes with accessibility of public transport and a string of other perks). Better work directions. More diversified roles. Bigger team with dynamic work ethics. Oh yes, and a new office space with a view to a beautiful and green and 'private' balcony. 'Private' because not many folks in our organisation crash in. So this space that now is 'dedicated' to us makes a quiet, peaceful place for lunch-ins, doing phone interviews and some colleagues in my team also bring out their laptops to write when the office gets sometimes noisy or when they just feel like doing so. Alhamdhulilah.
Beyond all these things that only became known to us after we moved, my heart jumped for joy when we heard we were moving back to the headquarters for one main reason. The gym.
No, I do not use the gym for exercise. I use it for my Zuhr and Asar prayers. Sometimes, when I have to work late, Maghrib prayers too.
I have a former colleague, Sister SB, who has now married and moved to London, to thank for sharing with me that other Muslim sisters in our organisation use the gym for their prayers, when I first joined on my job. May Allah (S.W.T) reward her abundantly. Ameen.
The gym we have is cosy and spacious. There is a room which houses a billiard table, and a few comfortable chairs. It also becomes a 'Mummy's Room' whenever necessary. And we too use it for our prayers.
And on times when the room is locked, there is a huge multi-purpose hall where yoga and aerobics sessions are held, that we also pray at. Albeit an open area, it can still be as peaceful at non-peak exercise hours, like half-hour later than the usual lunch hours. Colleagues who walk in talking at loud voices will reduce their volume once they spot us performing our prayers.
Above all, what I have grown to appreciate most now about the gym are the shower facilities. For the ease of taking wudhu.
And I have my reasons. We had moved to a new office in the middle of the last year. The biggest hindrance I faced there was taking wudhu. Like most washrooms in office buildings, there were wash basins which allowed for washing up.
After becoming more and aware of making the floor wet, I tried my best to prevent the floor from becoming wet. Even then, there were some other ladies who walked in and stare at me and make remarks on the water on the floor. From these instances, I used to take my wudhu in a very rushed manner (literally with my heart beating very quickly) so that I could walk out before any other women walked in.
I made lots of duas and asked Allah (S.W.T) to make this easy for me. SubhanAllah, HE answered my prayers. We moved to HQ. With all the good things that this move brought, I appreciated the move most for being able to make wudhu with peace and pray in the gym. Alhamdhulilah.
Now, when I make wudhu, I remember my times at the old office, and reduce the water that flows out from the shower tap and try my best to save water. I pray Allah (S.W.T) rewards other Muslim brothers and sisters who have to pray amidst conditions similar to that in my old office and more difficult ones.
Talking about spaces for performing prayer, would like to share on an experience I had when I was invited to attend a press luncheon at Furama Riverfront. I was unusually early that day as I did not have to report to office earlier that morning. Hence, I took some time to head to the lobby to wait for my editor to arrive when I spotted a sign that read 'Muslim Prayer Room' (if I remember correctly). I walked in and what I saw really made my day! It was a complete prayer room - with a Quran, some perfume bottles as it is Sunnah to apply some fragrance before praying, two prayer mats, a few sets of telokong and even an ablution area. All these were in that small area! Masha-Allah.
I snapped some photos and sent them to AZ, sharing my joy, and he was equally thrilled. After the press briefing at lunch, I promptly came back and did my Zuhr prayers before heading to office. Alhamdhulilah.