NEW DELHI: Almost half (45 per cent) 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 per cent) who anticipate this will happen later this year, according to global professional services firm KPMG.
The 2021 KPMG CEO Outlook Pulse Survey also finds that changes prompted by the pandemic have resulted in one-quarter (24 per cent) of CEOs saying that their business model has been changed forever by the global pandemic.
The study conducted by KPMG in February and March this year asked 500 global CEOs about their response to the pandemic and the outlook over a three-year horizon. A majority (55 per cent) 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 per cent) of CEOs are considering asking employees to report when they have been vaccinated, which may help organisations consider measures to protect their workforce. However, one-third (34 per cent) of global executives are worried about misinformation on Covid-19 vaccine safety and the potential this may have on employees choosing not to have it administered.
"Before any major decisions are made, CEOs want to be confident that their workforce is protected against this virus," said Bill Thomas, Global Chairman and CEO of KPMG.
"The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is providing leaders with a dose of optimism as they prepare for a new reality. CEOs are scenario planning for difference across certain key markets that could impact their operations, supply chains, and people, leading to uneven economic recovery."
Nine out of 10 leaders globally (90 per cent) intend to ask their employees to report when they have been vaccinated in order to protect the wider workforce. In India, 94 per cent CEOs intend to do so.
Majority of CEOs globally will wait for more than 50 per cent of population to be vaccinated before returning to the office. In India, this number stood at 76 per cent.
A total of 66 per cent CEOs in India as opposed to 74 per cent CEOs globally felt the pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of operations and creation of next-generation models.
Three-quarters (76 per cent) of CEOs globally see government encouragement for businesses to return to 'normal' as the prompt for businesses to ask staff to return to the workplace. In India this number stands at 86 per cent.
In addition, 61 per cent of global executives, as opposed to 76 per cent Indian executives, said that they will also need to see a successful (over 50 per cent of the population vaccinated) Covid-19 vaccine rollout in key markets before taking any action toward a return to offices.
When employees can safely return to workplaces, one-fifth of companies (21 per cent globally as compared to 18 per cent in India) are looking to institute additional precautionary measures by asking clients and other in-person visitors to inform them of their vaccination status.
The research finds that only 17 per cent of global executives are looking to downsize their office space as a result of the pandemic as opposed to 22 per cent in India.
In contrast, 69 per cent of CEOs surveyed globally in August 2020 said they planned to reduce their office space over three years, which demonstrates that either office downsizings have taken place or, as the pandemic has drawn on, strategies have changed. This number stood at 48 per cent in India in 2020.
CEOs are considering what the new reality will look like, but post-Covid, only three in 10 (30 per cent) of global executives as compared to 32 per cent Indian executives are considering a hybrid model of working for their staff, where most employees work remotely two to three days a week.
As a result, only one-fifth (21 per cent) of businesses globally are looking to hire talent that works predominantly remotely. In India this number is at about 22 per cent This is a significant shift from last year (73 per cent in 2020 globally as compared to 77 per cent in India).
During lockdown, remote working has become the norm, which poses new data security risks to organisations. As a result, global business leaders including in India have identified cyber security as the top concern impacting their growth and operations over a three-year period. Cyber security was named ahead of regulatory, tax and supply chain concerns.