PwC said its latest COVID-19 CFO Pulse survey reveals a sense of optimism among finance leaders about their companies’ ability to reopen safely, as various economies gradually remove restrictions.
Survey results indicate that 75% of CFOs feel very confident they can meet customers’ safety expectations while 70% are very confident they can provide a safe working environment for employees.
The survey of 867 CFOs in 24 countries and territories also finds that 49% of CFOs are considering making remote work a permanent option where feasible, and 48% are looking at accelerating automation and other ways of working.
Highlights of survey results
Workplace safety: Among the tactical measures planned to protect staff, 76% of all CFOs surveyed are considering masks and testing, and 65% say they’ll reconfigure worksites to promote physical distancing.
Remote working: About half (49%) of CFOs consider making remote working a permanent option.
Employee protections: Many CFOs (43%) expect higher demand for protections such as paid sick leave, discrimination safeguards and other policies and benefits. CFOs in Portugal (54%), the US (52%) and Malaysia (52%) are most likely to expect demand for more employee protections.
Staffing: More than one-third (37%) of CFOs expect changes.
Supply chains: When it comes to changing supply chains, 51% of CFOs cite developing alternate sourcing options as the most pressing area.
Revenues: More than half (51%) of CFOs expect a decrease in revenues of up to 25% as a result of the current crisis.
Cost containment: As companies settle into stabilisation, cost containment is a favoured strategy among CFOs, with 81% saying they will consider it in response to the crisis.
In addition, 60% of finance leaders say they will defer or cancel planned investments, with facilities and general capex (83%), operations (53%) and workforce (49%) topping the list. Only 16% of CFOs are considering deferring or cancelling investments in digital transformation.
Recovery: Although 42% of CFOs believe their company could return to “business as usual” within three months if COVID-19 were to end today, there is a growing sentiment in many territories that recovery may take much longer.
Overall, 8% of CFOs would expect it to take more than one year. In Malaysia, 23% of CFOs say returning to business as usual could take more than a year.
Long-term benefits: Many CFOs cite work flexibility (72%), better resiliency and agility (65%), and technology investments (52%) as crisis-driven developments that will improve their companies in the long run.