CFOs Grow Increasingly Cautious About Reopening Workplaces

Empty Office

CFOs seem to be more cautious about reopening their businesses than many governors are about reopening their states. As some jurisdictions contemplate lifting stay-at home orders and encourage companies to open their doors, corporate leaders see the path to recovery as being increasingly complex, lengthy and expensive.

The fourth iteration of PwC’s COVID-19 Pulse survey—conducted every other week since March 9—reveals that financial leaders have grown more cautious about current and future business conditions as the crisis continues.

Some states lift stay-at-home orders and want companies to reopen, but CFOs see the path to recovery as increasingly complex, lengthy and expensive. #HR #HRTech @PwC Click To Tweet

In the survey conducted during the week of April 22, for example, 80 percent expected to see their company’s revenue and/or profits decline this year. That’s up from 58 percent the week of March 9. Eighty-six percent were considering some kind of cost-containment plan last week, up from 62 percent in mid-March.

Those plans could impact HCM technology vendors. Last week, 70 percent of CFOs were thinking about deferring or canceling planned investments. Of those, 62 percent were eyeing cuts to workforce investments while 48 percent considered cuts to IT investments. In mid-March, 32 percent were considering reducing investments.

Reopening Workplaces Safely

CFOs also anticipate making wide-ranging changes in the interests of workplace safety. More than three-quarters, 77 percent, believe they’ll have to make some kind of change before reopening their facilities. Some 65 percent expect to reconfigure their work sites to encourage social distancing, while 52 percent believe they’ll modify schedules or alternate shifts to reduce exposure. About half, 49 percent, think they’ll make remote work a permanent option for roles where it makes sense.

Business leaders have come to realize that both the physical workplace and customer experience will be dramatically different than they were before the pandemic, said PwC Chief Clients Officer Amity Millhiser. In response, “[many] of them are turning to new technologies and digital solutions to help them adapt and maintain social distancing, which will likely be a new normal for the foreseeable future,” she said.

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