HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The “Free Lunch” Return to Work
  • War & Uncertainty
  • Inflation
  • Next COVID Variant Adjustment
  • Employees Adjust
The following report is a synthesis of news and trends seen in the last quarter. This update is focused solely on themes of operational significance. The following take-a-ways are meant to foster ideas and promote creative thinking as each organization will interpret and distill this information in its own unique manner.

TOPIC 1: THE “FREE LUNCH” RETURN TO WORK

 

Bagel Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pizza Wednesday,….Games, Group Pictures???  How have you been lured back to the office? 

It appears to be a trial and error process at this point.  What is going to get everyone back to the office and, more importantly, want to return on a consistent basis?  This is the next phase for office workers as we emerge from the pandemic. 

General consensus, and according to recent occupancy statistics, suggests office occupancy hovers between 35 – 50% on any given day.  Anecdotally, however, the number can feel lower.  If you’re in an office where there’s only a handful of people present, it can be difficult to build the momentum of a return.

As we enter the second quarter of the year, we not only continue to battle COVID-related learned behaviors but also confront new hurdles.  Employers and employees alike continue to figure out a customized return-to-work strategy and approach.  Although no panaceas have risen to the top, trial and error will likely find a natural balance.  Ironically, however, it does seem as though everyone enjoys a free meal.

Office Workers having free lunch

Ongoing Issues to Consider:

 

  • What are sustainable drivers to come back?
  • How does hoteling factor into this process?
  • Where do return day(s) mandates fit in?
  • Are some of these new hybrid behaviors permanent?

TOPIC 2: WAR & UNCERTAINTY

 

Gas prices, supply chain instability, interest rates, stock market volatility.  

What can businesses do?; De-lever supply chains, reduce international exposure, hedge risk where possible, and continuously monitor the news.

The next few months could become increasingly difficult or, hopefully, improve with each passing day.  Given the war’s status as of Q1, timing, outcomes, and ramifications still remain uncertain.  Should businesses maintain exposure internationally, and what actions could be taken to offset potential disruptions?  What branding consequences could there be?

As there are various issues at hand both domestically and internationally, all you can prudently do is continue to monitor and iterate your planning efforts accordingly.

Ongoing Issues to Consider:

 

  • Resolution of War in Q2?
  • Escalation of Economic Issues
  • Short & Long-term impacts on consumers
Gas Pump

TOPIC 3: INFLATION

What’s next?  Federal Reserve is raising rates, cost-of-living is spiking and the economy is in full-swing.  Where are we heading from here? 

Salary adjustments, product price increases, supply and raw material shortages; all variables which cause all parties to continually assess and reassess their offensive and defensive positions.  Businesses must maintain a flexible stance at the moment until volatility settles down.  Consumers, in turn, will have to adjust their behaviors as well to ride out the potential effects to their bottom lines.

Woman shopping in grocery store

Ongoing Issues to Consider:

 

  • What is the impact on the economy or certain industries?
  • Slow-down, stagflation, recession?
  • Consumer confidence
  • Housing Prices / Demand

TOPIC 4: NEXT COVID VARIANT ADJUSTMENT

Shutdowns and restrictions are happening again, albeit not in the US.  China has begun to put restrictions in place as the new BA.2 variant begins to spread. Europe is starting to monitor the situation closely.  Logic would dictate, based upon prior similarities, that we’ll be dealing with this again soon in some manner.

The good news is/appears, vaccines are working; hospitalizations are down along with the severity of illness.  So, what could this mean from an operations perspective?  Businesses should have a contingency plan in place that simply allows for continued adjustments as needed.  Unfortunately, COVID is unlikely to be gone completely for a while, so organizations may need to adopt this as a “business-as-usual” strategy for the time being.

COVID Virus
Social Distancing

Ongoing Issues to Consider:

 

  • Will there be another surge?
  • Will customers and employees adjust quickly with limited impact?
  • Which industries are likely to be impacted the most?

TOPIC 5: EMPLOYEES ADJUST

 

The great resignation appears to be over however, the employee reshuffle continues.  Where geographically people want to work and the manner in which they want to work/engage continue to evolve.  The term “Remote” is now seen more and more on job postings. It seems employers are in fact adapting to the changing needs of job seekers.

Definitions of what jobs traditionally meant continue to change and, with it, the demands on both sides.  Although productivity is always paramount, other collaboration elements associated with pre-COVID environments are still sought after. It’s that balance that everyone desires and continues take effort to achieve the right mix that appeals to both employers and employees alike.

Remote Worker

Ongoing Issues to Consider:

 

  • How to make job environments more appealing.
  • Finding the optimal mix of in-person and virtual environments
  • How do traditional office environments evolve?

Q1 Conclusions

  • Balancing return-to-work with engrained behaviors will take time to adjust to
  • War and instability continue to challenge visibility
  • Inflation will cause ripple effects throughout ’22
  • Brace for more COVID, albeit hopefully different this time
conclusions

WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN Q2 ’22?

Return to Work
  • Booster #4
  • Modified Mandates for Return-to-Work
  • Another Variant
  • High Gas & Consumer Goods Prices
  • Economic Stabilization to Begin?

ABOUT CONSILIUM PARTNERS

Consilium Partners is an Operations Improvement Advisory. Our professionals are dedicated to creating transformational solutions to dynamic problems.

From both a Revenue and Expense perspective, we specialize in the assessment and optimization of Operations, Technology, and Real Estate.  Our interdisciplinary approach provides clients with optionality and actionable solutions to drive meaningful change.

As an affiliate company of one of the nation’s largest and most respected Accounting and Advisory firms, CohnReznick, we leverage our collective services platforms to integrate multiple perspectives and expertise into every client engagement.

AN OPERATIONS IMPROVEMENT ADVISORY