KPMG study: Return to `normal`


- Remote working poses new data security risks, with global CEOs naming cyber security as the top concern impacting their growth and operations over a three-year period.

- Survey finds a steep decline in the appetite of global executives to downsize their company’s physical footprint as global CEOs reconsider the need for in-person business to resume when countries emerge from the pandemic.

CEOs of the world’s most influential companies are planning what the ‘new reality’ will look like post pandemic. The 2021 KPMG CEO Outlook Pulse Survey finds that almost half (45 percent) of global executives do not expect to see a return to a ‘normal’ course of business until sometime in 2022, as opposed to nearly one-third (31 percent) who anticipate this will happen later this year. The changes prompted by the pandemic have resulted in a quarter (24 percent) of CEOs saying that their business model has been changed forever by the global pandemic.

The study conducted by KPMG in February and March of this year asked 500 global CEOs about their response to the pandemic and the outlook over a three-year horizon. A majority (55 percent) of CEOs are concerned about employees’ access to a COVID-19 vaccine, which is influencing their outlook of when employees will return to the workplace. A significant majority (90 percent) of CEOs are considering asking employees to report when they have been vaccinated, which will help organizations consider measures to protect their workforce. However, a third (34 percent) of global executives are worried about the misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine safety and the potential this may have on employees choosing not to have it administered.

Bill Thomas, Global Chairman & CEO, KPMG, said: “Before any major decisions are made, CEOs want to be confident that their workforce is protected against this virus. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is providing leaders with a dose of optimism as they prepare for a new normal.

CEOs are scenario planning for difference across certain key markets that could impact their operations, supply chains and people, leading to uneven economic recovery.

“The pandemic has also been a catalyst for CEOs to evaluate the role their companies play in society. Many have given voice to issues they may not have previously commented on publicly – from tackling climate change to supporting the diverse communities they operate in – and we need to keep hearing those voices. There is much more to be done.”

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