Four out of five CEOs expect remote working to become more widespread in their businesses, after finding that their prior concerns about productivity losses in lockdown were unfounded, according to PwC’s CEO Panel Survey, conducted in June and July 2020.
A prior survey of PwC, CFO Pulse, from April showed that nearly half of the surveyed financial executives expected productivity loss because of a lack of remote work capabilities. Two months later, when asked again, just 26% of CFOs anticipated productivity loss in the month ahead.
”CEOs feel they’ve passed a critical test and are now armed with important knowledge about their organisation — and are prepared to capitalise on the enduring trends brought about by COVID-19. The new normal tested companies capacity to conduct their activity without travelling, without personal meetings or ways of working that seemed indispensable and forced them to adapt in order to have a comparable or higher productivity. Organizational culture, business specifics and investments in technology have played and will play a very important role in this process, with some activities becoming even more efficient,” said Ionuț Simion, Country Managing Partner PwC Romania.
Two key themes emerged among our respondents, when asked about their priorities. The first one is the plan to make their companies more digital, by digitising core business operations and processes, and adding digital products and services.
The second theme is that the CEOs plan to develop a more flexible and involved workforce by increasing the share of remote or contingent workers, and expand employee health, safety and wellness programmes.
In this context, respondents believe shifts towards automation (76% of CEOs), low-density workplaces (61%), supply chain safety (58%), gig economy (54%) and public safety (50%) will have a lasting impact.
More pessimism about global economy perspectives
CEOs are significantly more pessimistic about the direction of the global economy over the next 12 months now than they were at the end of 2019, with just 30% saying economic growth will improve in the year ahead. And with good reason: The World Bank forecasts that the global economy will shrink by 5.2% in 2020, representing the deepest recession since the Second World War.
As a result, CEOs also face uncertainty about their own operations, with only 15% indicating that they are very confident in their organisation’s revenue prospects.
About the survey
PwC’s CEO Panel Survey, conducted in June and July 2020, is an extension of PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey and reflects the views of 699 CEOs, of which 16% lead organisations with revenues of US$1bn or more, 32% lead organisations with revenues between USD 101 million and USD 999 million and 40% lead organisations with revenues of up to USD 100 million.