PwC global survey: 64% of companies plan new safety measures when reopen work sites and 47% will make remote work a permanent option

05 May 2020

Almost two-thirds (64%) of the respondents globally plan new safety measures and requirements for employees in order to return to work, according to the most recent edition of PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, from 28 April. In this context, 55% want to reconfigure work sites to promote physical distancing and 22% to reduce real estate footprint.

”Most companies have moved beyond the short-term, reactive phase of the novel coronavirus pandemic, where they mobilised their response plans to address immediate concerns, such as the safety of their employees and the survival of the business. Now, they need to think about how to stabilise the activity  to operate in ‘the new normal’. An essential component of these plans is the reopening of offices, factories and other workspaces. For this reason, the first two measures considered are safety at work and the reconfiguration of spaces to ensure distance”, said Ionuț Simion, Country Managing Partner at PwC România.

In the new context, 47% of the companies make remote work a permanent option for roles that allow, 46% want to accelerate automation and new ways of working and 44% to change shifts and/or alternate crews to reduce exposure.

Regarding the COVID-19 impact on businesses, the level of concern related to the crisis is holding steady with the previous edition of the survey, with 70% expecting significant impact to their business operations and most of them (80%) across all territories expect a decrease in revenues and profits.

From an industry perspective, retail and consumer CFOs report the highest level of concern (75%), because of the decrease in consumer confidence and the consumption power, due to reduced disposable income.

The lowest level of concern about the potential business impact was reported by energy, utilities and resources CFOs (57%).

The share of the CFOs believe their operations could return to „business as usual” within three months if the coronavirus pandemic were to end today, fell to 49% from 56% in the previous edition of the survey.

Other conclusions of the report

  • The main priority of finance leaders is cost containment. Thus, the share of those considering cost reduction measures increased to 82%, from 77% in the previous edition.
  • In the top of CFOs concerns are the potential global recession (69%), the financial impact on operations (67%) and consumption decrease (58%, up from 39% in the previous report).
  • CFOs in the financial sector are most likely to be concerned about recession (74%) and financial impact (72%).
  • CFOs in Ireland take the most hardline view, with 98% saying they expect the crisis to lead to a decrease. Even in countries with a more optimistic outlook, CFOs take it as a given that the economic impact of the coronavirus will reduce revenues and profits: Switzerland (80%), Denmark (73%) and Germany (66%).
  • Among industries, financial services (86%), industrial manufacturing and automotive (86%), and retail and consumer (80%) have the highest share of CFOs who expect a decrease in revenue.
  • About half of the respondents say they will prioritise the development of alternate sourcing options (52%), understanding the financial and operational health of their suppliers (50%) and change contractual terms (42%).
  • 56% plan to include discussion of the coronavirus in their financial statements.

The survey was led among 871 CFOs from 24 countries or territories: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Middle East, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, US and Vietnam.

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Ionuț Simion, Country Managing Partner

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