Nearly 50 percent of chief executives around the world do not expect business to return to a pre-pandemic level until 2022, a study conducted by accounting firm KPMG reveals.
While 31 percent of chief executives expect that businesses will return to normal level later this year, KPMG said in its 2021 CEO Outlook Pulse report based on a survey conducted with 500 global chief executives in February and March.
The survey reveals that nearly fifty-five percent of respondents are concerned about their employees’ access to a COVID-19 vaccine, which is influencing their outlook as to when staffs will return to the workplace, while 90 percent are planning to ask their workers to report for duty after they are vaccinated.
Further, the survey shows that about 34 percent of the chief executives have concerns about misinformation on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and the potential this may have on employees choosing not to be vaccinated.
“Before any major decisions are made, chief executives 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 reality,” said Bill Thomas, global chairman and chief executive of KPMG.
The survey also reveals that only 30 percent of chief executives are looking for a hybrid working model for their staff, as a result, only 21 percent of businesses are considering hiring talent that works remotely. This marks a significant shift from last year when 73 percent of companies hired talent to work from home.
The pandemic-driven remote working trend has created new data security risks and global business leaders classified cybersecurity as the top concern affecting their growth and operations over three years, the survey said.
Meanwhile, the survey also found that environmental, social, and corporate governance is the top priority for businesses around the world, especially due to the Cop26 meeting, which is scheduled for November and the US rejoining the Paris Accord.
The survey shows that 49 percent of respondents plan to follow more stringent ESG practices while 89 percent will focus on locking in the sustainability and climate change gains their companies made as a result of the pandemic.
Ninety-six percent of global executives are looking to increase their focus towards the social component of the ESG programs, the report said.
“The pandemic has also been a catalyst for chief executives to evaluate the role their companies play in society. Today, many chief executives are talking about issues they may not have previously commented on publicly, from tackling climate change to supporting the diverse communities in which they operate,” said Karen Watts, a partner for quality and risk and head of corporate affairs at KPMG.