If one word can be used to sum up the past twelve months, it’s ‘connectivity’. Specifically, the lack of it. The inability to connect with family and friends, go out for leisure or travel to your place of work has made us more reliant on phones, tablets and laptops than ever before.

While digital networks have held up well over the past year, even amid the height of the Zoom quiz craze, we can’t afford to sit still when it comes to bolstering Scotland’s connectivity.

With no slight to our amazing space sector, it’s not rocket science to work out that better connecting our people and products to clients and key markets is essential to delivering growth. And as we build back from the pandemic, every decimal percentage point of that growth will really count as we set ourselves on the path to a strong and sustainable recovery.

Digital connectivity is a big deal for business, with over 90% of firms ranking it as a key factor in investment decisions. That’s why CBI Scotland’s 2021 Holyrood manifesto made working with the UK Government to deliver gigabit-capable digital connectivity across the whole country a key priority for whoever forms the next Scottish Government.

While some haven’t been so lucky, many of us have been fortunate enough to be able to work from home during the pandemic in ways, and in volumes, we may never have anticipated. While the era of the office is far from over, there’s no doubt that things won’t go back to the way they were pre-pandemic. Flexible working has brought advantages and is here to stay. That means digital connectivity is as important in Portree as it is in Paisley.

One of the key tests for digital connectivity is on the horizon, with Ofcom’s review of the wholesale fibre market. Telecoms companies across the country are desperate to get building, to deliver faster and more reliable connections for businesses and consumers, but they need help from the UK and Scottish governments to make that happen. With a bit of investment and some regulatory changes, we could make a huge leap forward. Streamlining planning processes, permitting the use of the new digging technology to minimise on-street disruption, and making sure regulation of how fibre can be laid alongside existing gas, water and electricity infrastructure is fit for purpose, would all help. It’s time for government to step-up to step-forward.

In terms of physical connectivity, the byword must be ‘green’. We need to look at our existing transport infrastructure and commit to refurbishing and repurposing it to become cleaner, more efficient and better targeted to key markets. We also have to look at areas where we lag behind, like smart-ticketing and electric vehicles. By offering consumers greater choice and convenience when it comes to public and personal transport, we can really start to push the low carbon alternatives that will help us achieve our net-zero commitments. With Glasgow hosting the COP26 summit later this year, our green credentials and leadership will be under scrutiny like never before.

The pandemic has radically altered the way we make day-to-day connections, whether for work, for leisure or for family. In an increasingly digital world, the quality and speed of those connections matter more than at any other time. And faced with a climate emergency, the race to decarbonise transport is on – with consumer pressure really coming to bear.

To be competitive on the world stage and to meet our climate commitments, Scotland needs to commit to a revolution of physical and digital infrastructure. What better time than now, as we rebuild from the pandemic, to take those important first steps.

Tracy Black is director of Confederation of British Industry in Scotland