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KPMG study finds almost half of global CEOs don’t expect to see a return to ‘normal’ until 2022

By 26/03/2021No Comments

Government and vaccination rates driving decision-making
Three-quarters (76 per cent) of CEOs see government encouragement for businesses to return to ‘normal’ as the prompt for businesses to ask staff to return to the workplace. In addition, 61 per cent of global executives said that they will also need to see a successful (over 50 per cent of the population vaccinated) Covid-19 vaccine rollout in key markets before taking any action toward a return to offices. When employees can safely return to workplaces, one-fifth of companies (21 per cent) are looking to institute additional precautionary measures by asking clients and other in-person visitors to inform them of their vaccination status.

Global CEOs are less likely to downsize physical footprint compared to six months ago
The research finds that only 17 per cent of global executives are looking to downsize their office space as a result of the pandemic. In contrast, 69 per cent of CEOs surveyed in August 2020 said they planned to reduce their office space over three years, which demonstrates that either office downsizings have taken place or, as the pandemic has drawn on, strategies have changed.

Global executives remain apprehensive about a fully remote workforce
CEOs are considering what the new reality will look like, but post-Covid, only three in 10 (30 per cent) of global executives are considering a hybrid model of working for their staff, where most employees work remotely 2–3 days a week. As a result, only one-fifth (21 per cent) of businesses are looking to hire talent that works predominantly remotely, which is a significant shift from last year (73 per cent in 2020).

Cyber security is now the top concern for CEOs
During lockdown, remote working has become the norm, which poses new data security risks to organisations. As a result, global business leaders identified cyber security as the top concern impacting their growth and operations over a three-year period. Cyber security was named ahead of regulatory, tax and supply chain concerns.

ESG continues to climb up the corporate agenda
With COP26 taking place this year and the US re-joining the Paris Accord, 49 per cent of CEOs plan to put in place more stringent ESG practices. A vast majority (89 per cent) of business leaders are focused on locking in the sustainability and climate change gains their companies have made as a result of the pandemic. Nearly all (96 per cent) global executives are looking to upweight their focus towards the social component of their ESG programs.

Thomas concluded: There has been a noticeable drop in the appetite by corporate leaders to make wholesale changes to how employees work, post-pandemic. The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated future of work trends, but many global leaders are taking a more measured approach before making concrete decisions. In many parts of the world, we’ve gone a year or more without in-person human interaction and it’s clear that CEOs — as well as their teams — are looking forward to being reunited.”

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