CEO’s See Less Globalization, More Flexible Workforces, Broadened Corporate Missions In COVID-19’s Aftermath

July 30, 2020

According to a new global survey, CEOs and C-Suite executives think COVID-19’s fallout will result in leaner and more agile companies. Businesses will likely emerge from this pandemic using more contract workers and fewer permanent staff, and business travel will be reduced in favor of more videoconferencing.

The Conference Board surveyed more than 1,300 CEOs and C-Suite executives about COVID-19’s long-term impacts. They see a return to pre-pandemic revenue levels at least a year or more away. More than 40 percent predict a U-shaped recovery, with more sustainable growth resuming by Q4 2020. About a third expect an L-shaped recovery, with sustained growth resuming only in late 2021.

Executives also say this crisis will compel them to accelerate their digital transformation plans and rethink their business models. Also, they do not see an increased urgency around the long-term restructuring of supply chains, reflecting a degree of confidence in their ability to manage emerging risks. Nor do most of them think cities will lose their staying power.

“In the short term, preparing for growth and recovery will require finding the right balance between conserving cash and investing in the innovations needed to succeed in a new commercial landscape – the next normal, if you will,” said Chuck Mitchell, a report author and Director of Knowledge, Content, and Quality at The Conference Board. “Post-COVID-19, CEOs expect their organizations to emerge leaner and more agile, redefining how work gets done.”

Additional takeaways from the report and survey results include:


What Will the Economic Recovery Look Like?

 A plurality of CEOs globally anticipate a U-shaped recovery (extended contraction in Q3, growth resumes by Q4).

  • Europe is most optimistic: 55 percent of CEOs in Europe see a U-shaped recovery as the likely scenario. 
  • United States and China: In both countries, slightly more than 40 percent anticipate a U-shaped recovery.

Nearly a quarter of US and Japanese CEOs expect a W-shaped recovery (second contraction in latter half of 2020).

  • Global: Just 16 percent of CEOs see this as likely.

Globally, just 11 percent of CEOs expect a V-Shaped recovery (a fast recovery in Q3). But, China’s CEOs have more hope.

  • China: Notably, 21 percent of CEOs there predict a V-Shaped recovery.

“While business leaders are navigating through the many disruptions and uncertainties brought on by the global pandemic, they are focusing on shaping long-term growth strategies in a post-pandemic world,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, a report author and Global Research Chair of The Conference Board. “Even though they expect their business revenues to recover slowly and not fully before the end of 2021, their focus on accelerating digital transformation and innovating new business models to serve their customers could lay the ground work for a sustainable growth path in the longer term.”





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