It is a question which is being posed regularly by both returning employees and by investors. Everyone has talked great words over the last eighteen months but what really has changed?
Feedback is that many leaders are reverting to type; that the expectation is that business will just return to how it was pre-pandemic. Maybe this will be the case but it is unlikely. Too much has changed. The problem is a difficult one as no one really understands how the consumer has changed or what true level of employees will return to offices and in what new balance.
However, there are trends we do know:
· We know that the tensions over Brexit are rising. The anti-Brexit lobby is arguing that the present challenges could all be foreseen which ignores the fact that many of the trends and challenges are taking place across all the developed world. Why? What is the common thread?
· Companies are struggling to find talent and there is a real need to engage and develop talent far better than what existed pre-Covid. There are lessons which can be learnt from the past where we can learn. History repeats itself, so we can learn from what worked back in past times.
· Young talent want to buy brands – food brands. It has become important to them so will this lead to more delivered in services and more brand pop-ups?
· The world is becoming ever more digital and yet the industry is still lagging behind. Why? There are lessons to learn from the retail sector which created new solutions in the hardest of times.
· Costs are rising in restaurants and in hotels. How will this impact on returning employees?
· If, as forecast, density of employees in London does fall by 30%, what are the implications?
· Insolvencies are expected to rise in Jan by between 18-24%.
· Food inflation will average between 6-7%
· Lower level wages will increase by 25-30%
· Most companies are expecting to be 75% levels v 2019 figures and yet it seems there will only be 60% of the custom in city centres. What is real?
This is likely to be a deeply challenging period where there will be winners and losers. It will require courage and bravery; it will require new solutions and thinking.
The one thing which can not happen is for companies to expect the world to return to how it was in 2019. This is unlikely.
So what has changed? And is it enough?