Agenda 2022 – We take a look over the horizon.

Key trends to kickstart your New Year planning

As we approach the start of 2022, we consider the issues and challenges that have emerged over the last two years and how businesses are working to adapt and thrive. The continuing impact of the pandemic, the flux within the economy and the huge imperative generated by the climate change agenda are shaping the way we work in different ways. Our blog explores the key issues and examines how you can prepare with confidence for the year ahead.

We are all hoping to be able to capitalise on new trends and changes of direction to help foster our ambitions and achieve our goals in the New Year. To keep ahead of the curve, it’s important to take account of the latest drivers of change that look set to influence our lives for the long term from driver and supply chain shortages, the challenges of hybrid working, and the demands of new taxation.

What does 2022 hold?

Despite continuing uncertainty over the progress of the pandemic, a picture is emerging of what life will look like in 2022.

Flexible and hybrid working looks set to remain in place as organisations find efficiencies in flatter structures and discover the benefits of improved employee engagement. The digitisation of the workplace and the drive to support individuals in technical upskilling will gather pace. Inevitably, the metaverse will grow in parallel with the physical realm, and the use of AI and automation will continue to change the nature of work.

The job market is becoming ever more competitive with high volumes of vacancies signalling the need for skilled individuals within the workforce. The issue of visibility amongst leaders, and a hunger for authenticity is affecting the way brands operate. And there has never been a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Below we look at some specific challenges that may affect the way your business operates in 2022, and how you can prepare to tackle them head on.


Sustainable choices

Perhaps the biggest single issue facing all organisations is the global impact of climate change and the role we must all play in helping to achieve the objectives set out in the COP26 summit. The drive to eliminate or reduce the environmental cost of doing business will focus all our minds in 2022 and beyond. The gathering momentum of ‘conscious consumption’ will lead to even greater scrutiny on purchase choices.

The decarbonisation of the supply chain is being taken extremely seriously in all sectors with a sharp focus on sustainably sourced stock from reliable origins. This is by no means a new priority, but the urgency of the climate imperative is bringing significant and swift changes to the availability of alternative products.

In our sector, the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) is committed to finding solutions that are sustainably sourced, recycled and reusable. The use of FSC sourced paper and packaging has been augmented by the development of alternatives including fully-bio-degradable plastics. The British Plastics Federation points out that ‘the enemy is waste and not plastic’ and plastic materials used appropriately can help to reduce waste and minimise carbon-heavy activities.

Plastic Packaging Tax on the statute books

One significant change in taxation facing UK business in 2022 will be the introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) which is due to come into force on 1 April. Businesses that manufacture or use 10 tonnes or more of plastic packaging will need to prove that it contains at least 30 per cent recycled content or pay a levy via HMRC of £200 per tonne. Alternative packaging options are becoming more and more accessible with the development of bioplastics, and compostable and oxo degradable plastics. The new tax provides an incentive for organisations to review their supply chains and start to plan to meet this challenge by taking advantage of innovative solutions.


Paper shortages set to continue

Even industries with a strong track record of sustainability are facing ongoing challenges that will affect decision making, and forward planning to accommodate supply requirements into 2022. The pandemic created a perfect storm in the paper sector, firstly by forcing mills to close or pivot their activities to produce the fibre to meet demand for carton board and corrugated cardboard driven by the rise in home shopping. As restrictions were lifted, pent-up demand led to bottlenecks exacerbated by supply chain and logistics issues including delays in freight transportation. The rising cost of raw materials including timber and raw pulp has seen price hikes and shortages that are challenging the most prudent planners. It is worth thinking ahead and planning as far as possible in advance to overcome this potential barrier.

Storage space shrinks

With the trend for hybrid and remote working showing no sign of a reversal, businesses are reconsidering their real estate portfolios. According to a study for PWC, around half of UK employers plan to reduce their office space by up to 30 per cent. As the climate remains uncertain, businesses are committing to shorter leases and looking for greater future flexibility.

While there is no sign that offices will disappear completely, the workplace is being reconfigured, creating a need to rationalise how space is used and focus attention on storage efficiency. Many organisations may find that they do not have sufficient storage space in house and decide to outsource.


Hybrid working fuels flexibility

The physical decentralisation of the workforce is having an inevitable impact on ways of working with a greater reliance on technology and digital skills. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, 85 per cent of employees are keen to retain a combination of office-based and home working. Businesses are embracing the new model as they observe no negative impact of practices that were conceived in an emergency, and many employees say that they benefit from the flexibility.

There will be greater reliance on systems to achieve consistency and efficiency, with a growing requirement for accessible online platforms to bring materials and communications together.

Driver shortage tests capacity

Supply chain issues have been well rehearsed in the news since the pandemic began. The Road Haulage Association calculates that the UK is short of around 100,000 drivers, many of whom have returned home to Europe citing working conditions and changes to tax regulations amongst their reasons for leaving the industry. As an ageing workforce, the logistics sector has struggled to attract new entrants amongst young people and work continues to increase levels of reward, recognition, and respect to the driver role, on which the final mile of all logistics operations depends.The UK government is attempting to help address the issue with 5,000 temporary visas for qualified drivers and intensive bootcamps for new recruits./p>

Rising to the challenge

While the challenges are set to continue into 2022, the pandemic has shown how well businesses are able to adapt to tackle them head on. Forearmed is forewarned and knowing where to focus will enable organisations to review their strategies and engage the support of supply chain partners that can help.

PDS has been developing its expertise in many of these challenge areas and stands ready with solutions to address them.

We can offer:

  • help to review and audit your packaging requirements, enabling you to plan for the Plastic Packaging Tax, source sustainable alternatives and achieve your environmental goals.
  • access to secure sources of paper supply through our printer partners to ensure that your projects are not delayed, and the highest levels of service are maintained.
  • opportunities to support downsizing by offering storage and fulfilment solutions that free up space for your essential workforce.
  • access to our bespoke online system that enables your organisation to manage stock efficiently through greater visibility and improve brand control at the touch of a button using digital asset management.

We would be delighted to talk to you about the ways in which the issues we have explored might affect your business in 2022 and discuss some solutions that are already helping many of our clients to stay ahead of the curve. Please complete the contact form and we will be in touch.


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