Country for PR: United Kingdom
Contributor: PR Newswire Europe
Tuesday, August 11 2020 - 09:01
CEOs: Post-Covid changes are permanent and there are more to come
LONDON, August 11, 2020 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

- A new PwC survey of CEOs across the globe looks at the outlook for growth and 
the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way businesses operate now and in 
the future.
- According to CEOs, shifts towards remote working, automation and low-density 
offices are here to stay.
- Climate change, supply chain safety and adapting the customer experience are 
amongst additional trends driving further long term change. 

The need for business leaders and policy makers to fundamentally rethink the 
way they plan, invest and operate in the future is underlined in a new survey 
of 699 global CEOs released by PwC.

The survey shows the majority of CEOs believe that COVID-19 pandemic driven 
shifts towards remote collaboration (78%), automation (76%) and fewer people 
working from offices (61%), are here to stay. Overall, 61% say their business 
model will be more digital in the future - a change accelerated by the 

Responses show digital infrastructure, flexible working and employee well-being 
will top their boardroom agendas as they reconfigure business operations to 
secure growth in the next 12 months and beyond. Fifty-eight percent of CEOs say 
ensuring supply chain safety will remain a focus, driving technology 
investments to enable tracking of products from production to delivery, and to 
ensure their suppliers and partners are resilient during crises. 

"Business leaders need to simultaneously keep their company running today and 
fundamentally rethink their strategy for tomorrow, so they come out of the 
pandemic ready to reconfigure their business to thrive in a very different 
world. And they need to do that, thinking not just about the COVID-19 
acceleration of change in society and the rising expectations of their broader 
stakeholders, but also the other issues that are going to fundamentally reshape 
the future of business - from climate change to populism," says Bob Moritz, 
Global Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited. 

In a challenge to decades of increased globalisation, almost two in five (39%) 
of CEOs believe there will be a permanent shift towards onshoring and 
insourcing, and a similar share expect an enduring increase in nationalism. 

Kristin Rivera, Global Leader, Forensics & Crisis, PwC US, comments: 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded CEOs of the importance of building 
resilience into their operating model. Firms that were able to quickly adopt 
digital working practices or switch their supply chains were better able to 
withstand the shock. CEOs now need to simultaneously contend with the unfolding 
pandemic and to rethink how they operate in the future. Not every innovation 
developed in a crisis is right for the long term, but there is much to learn."

CEOs are naturally cautious on their own revenue growth prospects in the year 
ahead (45% somewhat confident: 15% very confident). 65% are predicting a 
decline in global growth. Concern about the global economy is highest in 
Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. 

Business leaders also believe the pandemic increased the importance of 
responding to a wider range of stakeholder issues, particularly employees. 
Employee support measures included health and safety (92%), well-being (61%) 
and financial support (24%). Forty-two percent made contributions to community 
organisations and almost a third (32%) of business leaders reduced their own 
pay. Those CEOs who maximised retention (36%) and protected employee health and 
safety (92%) believe it will have a positive impact on their organisation's 
long-term reputation. 

Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader, People and Organisation, PwC US, comments:

"The accelerated shift to flexible working has been valuable for many 
companies. Whatever new models emerge, it's clear that employee-oriented 
policies that invest in safety, protection and well-being could become the new 
differentiator for recruitment, retention and company reputation."

The changes driven by COVID-19 add significantly to an already full agenda for 
CEOs. Climate change remains an influential trend for consumers and businesses 
alike. When asked if the shift to climate change mitigation would endure, the 
majority of business leaders (47%) said it would. Business leaders believe 
short term increases in disposables (including sanitizers, masks) and decreases 
in the use of the sharing economy would only be temporary.

Limited retreat from cities

While the majority of CEOs (61%) believe that there will be lower workplace 
density than before, they remain divided about what role cities will play in 
the future: 34% believe the shift towards de-urbanisation will continue; 38% 
believing it is temporary.

Divided about the role of government

Business leaders are not expecting extended government support, with the 
majority (57%) believing state intervention to be a temporary feature, despite 
the potential for governments to use the support to influence COVID-19 recovery 
and policies impacting business. Less than one in three (30%) believe 
government support will be sustained, despite a gloomy outlook for global and 
organisational growth prospects in the next 12 months. One in five respondents 
say they declined government backed support for their business during the 

Bob Moritz comments:

"Some CEOs may feel like they've passed a critical test. What's critical now is 
that they use the important knowledge they've gained about their organisations 
effectively for business and society. The most enduring shift in this pandemic 
is the reality that it can no longer be a choice between the long and the short 
term. We need to address both."

About the survey:

PwC's CEO Panel survey, conducted in June and July 2020 as an extension of 
PwC's Global CEO Survey — reflects the views of 699 CEOs on emerging business 
models and key trends resulting from COVID-19. They are leaders of private 
businesses and public companies, of small firms and $1 bn+ enterprises, and 
represent a diverse cross-section of industries, countries and territories.  
Respondents came from 67 countries/territories including: Western Europe (42% 
of respondents): North America (7%); Middle East (3%).

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Source: PwC