The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the world works, travels, eats,communicates and even parties. Being one among the first countries in the world to complete testing for 50% of the population,Bahrain has one of the highest testing rates per capita, which has obtained the acknowledgment of the World Health Organization (WHO). On the economic front, government-declared stimulus packages amount to US$11.4 billion. The most adversely affected industries have been identified, and businesses have been instructed to apply for support.
As the pandemic progresses,businesses face new challenges every day. Complicated new costs emerge while operating socially distanced,sanitized and facemask compliant customer outlets, also running at minimum capacity to function safely.The retail sector needs to encourage customers to return to physical stores to safely shop, while they also need to be convinced in order to download new mobile shopping apps.
Industries which have clearly been adversely impacted include retail,tourism, hospitality, while online services of grocery stores and hypermarkets have witnessed great demand. The overnight spike in demand caused many home delivery services to be overbooked for days.
Businesses are creatively reimagining their working models, with the introduction of drive-throughs, remote drop and pickup, anywhere-anytime delivery, and virtual assistance. These constant innovators are the ones who are leading the way in struggling industries. Many believe that the teachings offered by the pandemic pave the way for a new normal, and businesses which can adapt to this, will emerge as leaders.
Leadership is particularly highlighted during a crisis. Bahrain has many examples of leadership successfully guiding not just customers, but also employees and partners, towards building a better ‘new normal’. Through this feature, we sit down with several leaders to explore the effects of the pandemic on their business operations, how they took swift action to make their workplaces safe, how they dealt with the challenges of remote work, all while maintaining an engaged audience and contented workforce. We also discuss their learnings from the situation, outlook for the future, and what advice they can offer to fellow leaders