Nearly half of CEO’s predict there will be no return to business as normal this year as the world continues to struggle with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nearly one-third of 500 CEOs surveyed by accountancy firm KPMG said normality would return this year, but 45% said it would take until 2022 for business as usual to resume.
Almost one quarter – 24% – of CEOs said they do not ever expect to return to a “normal” course of business, with business models and operations changed permanently by the pandemic.
The conclusions are based on KPMG’s survey of 500 CEOs from 11 major economies – including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the US –between 29 January and 4 March.
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CEOs said access to vaccines was key for staff to return to the office, with 55% concerned about some employees being unable to access a Covid-19 vaccine.
The survey found 90% of CEOs plan to ask employees to report when they have been vaccinated.
Some 61% of execs said they would want more than half of the population vaccinated before they began to call staff back to work.
Financial services firms such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have told interns that they will be coming into the office this summer in London and New York in a sign that working from home may be coming to an end.
David Solomon, Goldman Sachs’ chief executive, told a recent conference that working from home was an “aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible”.
The survey also found that bosses’ desire to cut their real estate footprint had fallen since six months previously.
Only 17% of CEOs are looking to cut their office space as a result of the pandemic, compared to 69% in the same survey in August 2020.
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Confidence is also returning, with net confidence in executives’ own company at 88% and in their own country at 84%. However, confidence in the global economy remains low at 42%.
Mary O’Connor, interim chief executive at KPMG UK, said: “After steering their businesses through a year dominated by the pandemic, CEOs are shifting their plans from survival to revival.
“Many have already taken strong action to transform their operating model and as they plot their path through recovery, the pressure is on to keep the positive changes made during the pandemic, while mitigating the risks it has brought.
All respondents of the survey have annual revenues greater than $500m and 35% of the companies surveyed have more than $10bn in annual revenue.
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