Feedback does suggest that many do still believe that workplaces will return to normal in Q1 2022. Will they? Research suggests this is unlikely.

One of the most common private conversations which are taking place all across the industry is the perceived gap between how many boards see the landscape and those at the operational level. One can argue that this has always been the case – a gap in thinking between those on the front line and those in HQs. The difference this time is that many at the board level do seem to believe that the world will return to how it was; that companies will start to enforce the return to work, that people will need to accept that they need to return to workplaces.

This may yet prove to be the case but many suspect that this is an unlikely reality. Research supports this and as does feedback from workplaces. Most expect to see the levels improve but the full return is very unlikely. The world has changed. Work patterns have changed.

There are many theories circulating as to why different generations view the picture differently. This has always been the case throughout history. However, history also suggests that every crisis, pandemic or war creates far greater change than is understood at the time. The odds are that this will true now too.

The world has changed. Work patterns have changed.

The landscape was crying out for change back in 2019. There were stress faults all over the place. Models were inevitably going to change and changing they are. The changes will not be dramatic; they will be slow but it will happen. The challenge for boards is to understand the changes taking place.

Unfair? Well, feedback shows that many still either try to ask too much of digital innovation or try to over control its use. Few ask how it can improve the customer journey; far more how it controls cost and improves payment.

It is very likely that the partnership between digital innovation and service could be very good in how it improves the journey of customers and employees.

Some argue that the period 2009-2020 was a decade of process and control; that 2021 to 2030 will all be about a new mind-set – a focus on the customer and improving revenue flows.

We are all working out what will happen. One can dispute the above. It will be interesting to see how the industry comes out.