Almost half of global CEOs do not believe there will be a return to pre-Covid business operations until 2022 – while a quarter do not ever see a ‘return to normal’ post-pandemic.
This is according to survey of 500 CEOs carried out by international business consultancy KPMG and published yesterday (Friday).
Of the 11 countries surveyed, a higher proportion of Australian respondents believed their business had changed forever. Sixty percent of Australian respondents were in the ‘forever changed’ camp and none believed business normality in 2021 was possible.
But Aussie bosses more confident than most
Globally, 45 percent of CEOs believe they will ‘return to their normal course of business’ sometime in 2022, while 24 percent say their business is ‘forever changed’.
On the upside, though, 100 percent of Australian executives polled were ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ of growth prospects over next three years. This positivity is 11 percent above the global average.
The survey of CEOs with companies that have above US$500-million in turnover also finds that the easing of government restrictions would be a more important trigger to return to normal than a successful rollout of the Covid vaccine.
Governments lifting Covid restrictions is vital
Seventy-six percent of global bosses said government encouragement in key markets – by lifting Covid restrictions – would be the key trigger in a return to normal working.
The two major concerns expressed by the leaders about the vaccine distribution were employees in different countries not having access to vaccines at the same time, and staff being put off being vaccinated by misinformation.
Yet despite the ‘delayed/if ever’ uncertainty about a return to normal, the CEOs are overwhelmingly confident about their company and country’s prospects over the next three years. Almost 80 percent are expecting growth of between 2.5-10 percent, but fewer than half were optimistic about the prospects for the global economy in that timescale.
Nationalism or geopolitical issues pose a risk
Dr Brendan Rynne, Chief Economist at KPMG Australia, said: “Many CEOs now doubt if there can be a return to normal, as we previously understood it. A smooth and uniform vaccine roll-out across most countries is clearly key to many multinationals. The risk is that nationalism or other geopolitical issues could prevent that.
“Our survey shows many companies are clearly looking to governments to give them the go-ahead to resume normal business operations, but easing of restrictions will largely depend on the vaccine roll-out.”
He added: “There is also a question of whether going ‘back to normal’ would be a good thing anyway, or whether we should use this once-in-a-lifetime situation to permanently lock in changes.”