The Challenges of Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Business World

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | The Challenges of Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic in the Business WorldRight now, there are a lot of companies that are figuring out how they are going to respond to the pandemic moving forward. Even though it is great news that many people have already gotten vaccinated, the virus is still out there. Furthermore, the virus is continuing to mutate, creating a lot of concerns for companies that are trying to stay afloat. For this reason, a lot of people are going back to school to get extra credentials, as the cost of CFA has gotten lower. What are a few of the biggest challenges that companies are going to face moving forward? Take a look at some of the key topics below.

The Growing Role of the Digital World

One of the biggest challenges is the increasing digitization of the business world. Because a lot of people are unable to go to physical stores right now, more people are purchasing goods and services online. Companies need to do everything they can to make sure they are accessible online. It is true that some products and services are more amenable to the online world than others. At the same time, it is incumbent on the companies to be as creative as possible. The more they can open doors to the digital world, the easier time they will have generating revenue in the current environment. It will be interesting to see how companies do this moving forward.

The Challenge of Supply Chains

Another major challenge that companies are facing right now has to do with supply chain issues. In the past, a lot of companies would try to rely on a single supplier for everything. The biggest benefit of this is that companies can develop a strong relationship with a single supplier, knowing that the supplier understands exactly what they want. Now, this is not a smart move. It is important for companies to rely on a variety of suppliers to hedge their risk. What this means is that if something happens to that supplier, such as they are forced to shut down because of changing regulations and their jurisdictions, the company will still be able to rely on other suppliers to fill the gaps. This is something that businesses will have to consider moving forward.

The Growing Reliance on Work from Home

There are a lot of businesses who are wondering how they are going to contend with the current work-from-home culture. Right now, there are a lot of companies that are still unable to return to the office. Because of current virus transmission rates, along with regulations in their areas, a lot of companies still have to have their employees work from home. Even though there are a lot of benefits that come with working from home, companies also still have to make sure their team members can communicate with one another. Companies that can find a way to ensure their employees can stay on the same page will be put in the best position possible to be successful.

Address These Growing Challenges

These are just a few of the many challenges that businesses are facing right now. As the pandemic continues to be an issue, companies need to figure out how they were going to address these challenges. Business owners and leaders need to remember that this is not something they need to go through on their own. There are professionals who are willing to lend a helping hand to businesses in need. If companies can find a way to overcome these challenges, they can set themselves up for success moving forward.

Krishen Iyer’s Outline for Middle-Managers Navigating Return-to-Work Anxiety

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Middle Manager|Krishen Iyer's Outline for Middle-Managers Navigating Return-to-Work AnxietyAfter over one year of navigating an unthinkable public health crisis, the world is beginning to look more normal. As a result, executives and managers alike have started to brainstorm strategies for returning to the office. For some, returning to the office represents a long-awaited victory over COVID-19. However, others do not share that same optimism. While professional leaders cannot control their employees’ attitudes towards the pandemic, they can control their rhetoric towards return-to-work anxiety.

Return-to-work anxiety is valid. Some employees may have health issues that make them more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 or more likely to have severe complications from the coronavirus. Simultaneously, plenty of professionals have caretaking responsibilities that could be impacted by working predominantly outside the home.

Regardless of the circumstances, it should be the top priority of professional leadership to empathize with their reluctant employees who are hesitant to scale back remote work. More specifically, it may be difficult for middle-managers to balance their team’s concerns with the organization’s intentions. If you are feeling stuck, here is a step-by-step outline for middle-managers navigating return-to-work anxiety.

Step #1: Assess your team’s attitudes towards returning to the office.

The study of public policy teaches us that no policy can be effectively implemented unless the public consents. For this reason, it is critical to do your best as a middle manager to meet your employees where they are at with regards to returning to the office. The nuance with assessing your team’s attitudes lies in that you cannot simply assume where your team stands on returning to the office unless you ask.

Even when prompted to speak their truth, your team might not necessarily be telling you the whole story. Take Linda Hill’s perception, for example. A professor at Harvard Business School and author of Being the Boss, Hill finds that “people are fearful of looking weak or not living up to expectations.” Keeping this in mind, I agree with Hill’s suggestion to use anonymous attitudes to assess what your team thinks about returning to the office. Anonymous survey data can empower you to narrow in on your employees’ concerns, while employees can rest assured that their opinions are heard and addressed.

Step #2: Determine how compromise can factor into your office’s reopening.

If you can give your team options on returning to the office, that should be your first point of action following an anonymous survey. Options should give your team the liberty to choose how often they come to the office, as well as on which days. You can also go the extra mile to meet your team where they are by making adjustments to their office space. For example, if your workplace is in an open-faced cubicle format, feel free to encourage your team to reach out to you privately about finding a more semi-private space to work in the office.

As a middle manager, empathy matters, especially when retaining talent. A FlexJobs survey found that 58% of professionals would “absolutely look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position.” The survey, which compiled data from over 2,000 respondents, also found that 65% of participants sought to work remotely full-time post-pandemic, whereas 33% of the study preferred a hybrid work arrangement. When considering the workforce’s acclimation to remote work, we see all the more reasons for managers to compromise with their employees about their office schedule.

Step #3: People-pleasing does not work.

Compromise is essential, but so is honesty. Make sure that you do not make any promises that you must later retract. Hill reminds us that no one can say with absolute certainty that returning to the office has “zero risks” from a public health insight. Offering your full transparency and honesty with your team can be a moment of growth for you as a manager. It may be a difficult conversation to let your employees know that some degree of compromise might not be possible, but the best decisions are rarely the easiest.

Although compromise might be tricky to balance with other internal stakeholders, you should, of course, try to make every employee as satisfied as possible. If someone on your team makes a novel request that you are unsure about, do not confirm that the accommodations can be made until you speak with senior leadership or your human resources department. That might be difficult to remember, given your innate desire to retain your team, but full transparency and honesty will make the decision-making process easy for everyone involved in the long run.

About the Author

Krishen Iyer is the founder of MAIS Consulting Services, a Southern California-based firm with a vertical focus on health and dental insurance distribution centers. MAIS Consulting provides innovative contracting and marketing solutions to their clients, a mission that draws on Iyer’s nearly two-decades-long career in digital marketing on behalf of insurance distribution centers.

3 Ways You Can Make Employees Feel Comfortable Enough To Return To The Workplace

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | 3 Ways You Can Make Employees Feel Comfortable Enough To Return To The WorkplaceThe pandemic has altered people’s lives in many ways, including forcing most employees to work from home. In some ways, this has immensely changed the dynamics of company culture, which hasn’t been to every business’ liking.

If you miss having your staff around, or you’re worried that remote working is damaging employee performance and productivity, you’re probably eager to get everyone back to the workplace ASAP. How do you do this, though, without harming people’s safety and ensuring that they all feel comfortable?

These three suggestions ought to help.

Have Consistent And Open Communication

If you want to have a successful business, it’s important to understand why employee communication is essential. The more you talk to your employees and understand their feelings about work, the likelier they are to be honest with you and become dedicated to the business.

Of course, trying to do this in big team meetings isn’t the way to go about things. Instead, you want to focus on one-to-one conversations so that employees can voice concerns without potential judgement from their colleagues. Admittedly, some people may still be nervous about sharing their struggles with you, but they’re more likely to open up this way.

In terms of COVID-19, regular communication can let you know who’s uncomfortable about returning to the workplace and find ways to ease their minds. That way, no-one has to do anything that they’re not comfortable doing.

Make The Workplace Exceptionally Hygienic

One of the biggest concerns that employees are likely to have about returning to the workplace is hygiene. After all, the reason they’ve been stuck at home for so long is that there’s a virus going around.

While you might not be able to give your employees absolute certainty that they won’t get sick, you can still provide them with an exceptional level of hygiene. This can be achieved in several ways, including using a COVID-19 fogging machine.

Capable of killing all but 0.0001% of germs, a disinfectant fogger could help your UK workplace to be as free of contaminants as possible. You’ll find such a solution at Ideal Cleaning, who promise that the process will only keep you away from work for as little as two hours. If you combine their fogging capabilities with social distancing and good employee hygiene, there’s a good chance that COVID-19 will never infiltrate your workplace.

Establish A Detailed Work Plan

If employees are still hesitant after opening communication and cleaning the office, it may be worth presenting them with a return-to-work plan. In this, you can detail exactly how you’ll ensure everyone stays safe, so the risk of the virus spreading is as low as possible.

In this detailed plan, you’ll probably want to include these protocols, as well as outlining how you’ll monitor and respond to employee behaviour. After all, there’s no point telling people to do x, y, and z if you’re not going to check that everyone follows your orders.

Your staff who are reluctant to return to the workplace need to know that you’ll do everything to keep them safe. Otherwise, they’re just going to continue working from home.

If your business is struggling with the remote working setup, then it’s understandable why you’d want everyone back as soon as possible. Just make sure you take all the necessary steps to acknowledge and protect your employees so that this move benefits, rather than hurts, your business.

2020 Analysis: Which Financial Services Sector Saw the Greatest Upsurge in Demand Due to COVID-19

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article | 2020 Analysis: Which Financial Services Sector Saw the Greatest Upsurge in Demand Due to COVID-19COVID-19 took the world by storm, inflicting people across the globe with many health concerns. Its impact was also felt in various industries and businesses, including an upsurge in financial sector demand. A study by Awaken Intelligence investigated how the financial sectors in the US and UK have been coming during the crisis.

The research can be found at and was derived from collecting Trustpilot data. They used this data to determine the demand for various financial sector services in the initial months of 2020 when the pandemic hit and the same months in 2019.

Financial Service Sector Growth in the UK and USA

The two nations have experienced an increase in demand for financial services. However, there is a significant difference between them. While the Uk saw a 175% increase, the US only saw a 47%. Despite this, both rises were sudden and unprecedented, forcing financial service providers to update their business models quickly.

In-person meetings were out of the question, and these services typically rely on them. Switching to new procedures was imperative if they were to deliver high-quality assistance to customers regardless of the pandemic. Customers flooded support centres with calls and messages, and many found it difficult to adjust to the demand.

As a result of the nature of the COVID-19 enforced changes, even the most traditional businesses had to embrace modern technology and recognise its value. With the increased availability of self-service websites and application, pressure on customer service agents was lightened. Through the use of technology tools such as voice analytics, it has minimised the average call handling time while enabling satisfactory customer service provision.

Banking & Money

Banks and other loan businesses in the UK readily offered clients a break period and holiday payments on credit cards, loans and mortgages. Banks also reduced rates on new loans in an attempt to attract customers and generate revenue. With certain branches being closed, banks would provide great emphasis on their online and mobile platforms to be used during the pandemic. Banks wanted customers to remain safe in the knowledge that they could still access a variety of services on their online platforms and still receive additional help regarding any queries that they may have.

The UK people took advantage of these offers, and the sector saw a 204% rise. Though the US experienced a 148% rise in demand, this reflects a need to borrow additional benefits did not facilitate that.

Real Estate

In March, the UK placed the conveyancing process on hold. This prevented completion form taking place and home viewings were against COVID guidelines. Surprisingly, the nation still has an 87% rise in demand for real estate services.

Due to the initial pause in the sector, there was a backlog of eager buyers and sellers. When the government reopened markets in June, demands poured on. Another factor that facilitated the rise was eradicating stamp duty by the Uk government, which is to remain until spring 2021.

The US witnessed a nominal 3% growth. Different states had their regulations guiding competitions and home viewings. Still, the main factor was that new listings became rare because property owners were unwilling to sell in a period of economic upheaval.


One of the things people cherish about the UK is the National Health Service. Unfortunately, its services were quickly stretched because of the influx of COVID-related health issues. Scheduled appointments and procedures had to be pushed back to since healthcare providers needed to prioritise coronavirus patients.

Numerous individuals were compelled to seek private healthcare to reduce the NHS’s pressure while ensuring they received the best care. This shift resulted in a 311% increase in insurance demand in the UK. In the US, a rise took place, but it was only 26%.

The hike in demand in the US was relatively low because many Americans already have health insurance and did not need to purchase any because of the pandemic. Those who do not have insurance likely lack access on account of affordability. The pandemic did not suddenly make insurance coverage affordable.

Health insurance was not the only form that witnessed growing demand; travel insurance grew in popularity. Usually, only a minority of travellers claim their insurance, but the numerous cancellation resulted in a flood of claims.

Credit & Debit Services in the UK saw a 52% rise, but they dropped by 16% in the USA. Investment and Wealth experienced a 30% rise in the US and 119% in the UK. The financial sector is currently bracing itself for another impact as a second wave hits the two states. The uncertainty of these times holds the danger of rising unemployment rates and financial struggles.

What Now?

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Pandemic|What Now?This seems to be the burning question on everyone’s mind and no one seems to have an answer. This year has been unlike any other in history. There is no precedent on how to come back from a world-wide pandemic. But we have to move forward.

Most companies are in survival mode, and they don’t have the luxury of a large bank account to save them. Every choice they make has huge repercussions. Talk about stressful. Unfortunately, this is the case for many businesses, mine included.

There are many thought leaders out there giving advice on what to do next. If I’m being honest, it’s been hard for me to trust what they are saying. Not because I think they are making stuff up, but because they aren’t experiencing the same thing I am. They run multi-million dollar corporations with a large bank account to get them from quarter to quarter. My companies, however, have to make smart decisions today in hopes of making it to the next quarter. There isn’t much room for error. This is a real fear and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

Not only are we stuck in survival mode, but now my people have spent months at home working in isolation and isolation is dangerous. We belong in community, even with those we work with. Culture is critical to the success of a business, but it takes time and intentionality. In survival mode, time is a tough thing to sacrifice. I am constantly tempted to abandon culture and fight for survival. But I am choosing to hedge my bets on culture.

Roulette is a great example of the constant temptation we, as leaders, face every day. We put all our chips on black (culture). We act so confident that the people around us are bought in enough to place their bets black too. Then, at the last second, you push a couple of your chips over to red (survival). The people around you are frustrated and confused. Why did you abandon your bet at the last second? Because it felt safe. Fear forces you to make decisions that feel safe in the moment but aren’t in the long run.

Leaders need to be vulnerable with their people. They need to share their fears and concerns about the state of the company. They need to be able to depend on their people. You will be amazed at how your people show up for you when you give them a glimpse into your world. If you’re stuck in survival mode, how do you think that makes your people feel? They can feel your stress no matter how hard you try and hide it. You will have to do something tomorrow as a leader, so what will it be?

My advice: Get to know your people and let them get to know you. Talk about your worldviews—hopes, preferences, traditions, experiences, and beliefs. The diversity of your people is a great asset. People want to be understood for who they are, not just what they can do for you. When you tap into the intrinsic value of a person they will bring more to the table than you could have ever imagined. Make sure you can all agree to the purpose of your company, where you are going together. This is incredibly important, especially right now. You need people that can align their passions to the purpose so that they will take ownership of their role. Guiding Principles will be useful to you on the journey because it will help dictate how you will treat each other on the journey.

Lastly, make culture the boss. If you have done the hard work of getting to know your people and aligning to your purpose and guiding principles, then you are ready to let the culture dictate what you do next. The beauty of placing your bet on culture is that it will tell you how to move forward. It won’t force you to choose between your people and your tasks. It will help you use your people to accomplish your tasks. The choice will not be easy, but I am betting that it’s worth it.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Chris MeroffAuthor, speaker and entrepreneur, Chris Meroff, has made a career of testing new leadership ideas to see what works—and what doesn’t—in service-oriented leadership. What he has gleaned from his research has helped him build a fast-growing organization with a diverse and engaged workforce that understands the mission of his organization and their place in it. His business, Alignment Leadership Consulting, exists to teach leaders how they too can boldly pursue a workplace culture that prioritizes employee fulfillment. Learn more at