The five elements that will mark the return of summer, as seen by the UPF-BSM teaching staff

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Summer holidays are a time to disconnect, but also a time to take stock of the academic year that is coming to an end and to consider the challenges of the new one that will begin in September. The effects of the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine have been a difficult cocktail to face for many economic sectors in the first months of 2022. This summer is seen as a parenthesis between a first half of the year in which the crisis is beginning to wreak havoc and a final stretch of the year in which, if there are no changes, its effects will multiply.

All these questions have been analysed by the teaching staff of the UPF Barcelona School of Management (UPF-BSM) in their weekly articles and, at this time of hiatus, they offer us their vision to help us reflect: What kind of world will we find when we return from holidays? What will the months leading up to 2023 be like?

The effects of the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine have been a difficult cocktail for many economic sectors. UPF-BSM faculty members help us to reflect on this

Economy: a perfect storm for inflation

Inflation is and will be the main concern in 2022, as Xavier Brun, Director of the Master's Degree in Finance and Banking, points out: "We will have some complicated months, but I hope it will only be for a few months", he adds.  The current crisis began in autumn 2021, when prices began to rise: "It was good inflation, because the world did not have enough demand for all the supply that had not been consumed because of the pandemic". That situation changes with the invasion of Ukraine, which cuts off or limits access to raw materials and creates what Brun describes as "the perfect compound for inflation to go through the roof": more demand and less supply. The solution is to match them, and so far central banks have focused on the demand side. On the supply side, Brun prescribes, it will be necessary to "look for alternatives to products that are in short supply to reduce inflation. The process is not quick and we will see, at least for a few months, prices remain high.   

Logistics: supply chains resigned to uncertainty

The supply chains that have sustained the economic model in recent years are under stress and the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have worsened the situation, as Oriol Montanyà, Director of the Sustainability Observatory and the Total Postgraduate Course in Supply Chain Management, points out. "We have a business model with three particularly relevant weaknesses: the fragility of the global logistics system, the excessive dependence on certain raw materials and the economic impact of energy fluctuations", he analyses. What will happen in the future? The answer is uncertain, and as an example, Montanyà highlights Amazon's decision to halt the construction of four new logistics platforms in Spain. And it is not the only one taking measures in view of the months ahead: "In this situation of prolonged uncertainty, many companies are opting to redesign their supply chains, providing them with elements of resilience, such as sustainability, proximity and collaboration". 

"To reduce inflation, supply and demand must be matched. So far, central banks have focused on the demand side, but on the supply side, alternatives to products in short supply must be found"

Transport: a summer of chaos at airports

The price of energy, and in particular oil, is having a major impact on the whole economic production chain, especially on transport. For airlines, inflation is adding to an already difficult situation. As Andrei Boar, professor at the Academic Department of Finance, Accounting and Controlling, explains: "It has been an uncertain start to the year as we have not been able to gauge demand over the twelve months.  That lack of foresight and the effects of the pandemic are causing the one problem we are seeing now. "The summer has led to a return to full passenger capacity, but with a supply of flights and workers that had been adjusted and has not been expanded again. The cost of oil makes it difficult for companies to recoup all that has been lost to covid, and threatens a summer of chaos at airports. "There are no staff available for the current demand and thousands of flights will be cancelled. Those that do leave will be delayed and there will be problems in the chain of operations," Boar notes

Human resources: mental health at work is already a priority for companies

The pandemic has put mental health on the table for companies. "According to a study by Infojobs, the number one reason cited by workers who have quit or plan to quit their jobs in 2022 is mental health at work," recalls Nia Plamenova, professor at the Master in Human Resouce Management. There is greater awareness in society and there is no longer a stigma in talking about anxiety, depression, stress and burnout in the workplace.  "Taking care of workers' mental health is becoming a fundamental requirement for companies that want to attract high quality talent, and it is starting to be seen as a pillar of sustainability and corporate social responsibility," celebrates Plamenova, who foresees two growing trends. "On the one hand, better detection of mental health problems and professional support for employees to deal with them. On the other hand, flexible working policies that benefit mental health will expand.

"The number 1 reason cited by workers who have quit or plan to quit their jobs in 2022 is mental health at work. Taking care of it is becoming a fundamental requirement for companies"

Technology: the metaverse, a reality that can change the world

"The first quarter of 2022 marked the awakening and recognition of this new reality: the metaverse", announces Luz Parrondo, Director of the Postgraduate Course in Blockchain and other DLT technologies, who recalls its origin and analyses how far its evolution may go. The term metaverse, "coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel 'Snow Crash', has made the leap from science fiction to reality thanks to Web3 technology built on blockchain and virtual reality". What is its future? "It's about replicating reality on the internet.  Replicating people, spaces and assets, transferable through open and decentralised economies, without limits or interruptions from a single community or company," foresees Parrondo, who believes that the metaverse will give new spaces for business and social interaction. "We are on the verge of redefining the boundaries between traditional industries to start calculating the impossible.