KPMG’s research suggests that large companies no longer plan to reduce office space and expect most employees to return to their desk after the pandemic.
Firms ’enthusiasm for reducing the number of business premises may have cooled slightly, and new research by the professional services group KPMG suggests that CEOs no longer intend to reduce their physical footprint after the COVID-19 pandemic.
KPMG’s 2021 CEO Pulse Survey found that only 17% of CEOs plan to reduce office space, compared to more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents in August 2020.
At the same time, only 30% said they plan for most employees to work remotely 2-3 days a week – potentially destroying the hopes of employees who had hoped or even expected
in the workspace after a pandemic.
KPMG said the results suggest the bosses were more confident about it
thanks to the “positive momentum” of the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine. CEOs also feel they are on stronger feet than a year ago, thanks to successful digitization initiatives.
Despite this, only one-third (31%) of CEOs said they expect to return to normal in 2021, while 45% expect things to return to normal in 2022. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of companies said they would
before asking their staff to return to the office, and 76% said they would wait until the government says it was safe to return to the office before encouraging their staff to do so.
SEE: COVID-19 policy in the workplace (TechRepublic Premium)
“Before any major decisions are made, CEOs want to make sure their workforce is protected from this virus,” said Bill Thomas, global president and CEO of KPMG.
“The introduction of COVID-19 gives leaders a dose of optimism as they prepare for the new reality. CEOs are planning a scenario for certain key markets that may experience a shortage of vaccines that could affect their business, supply chains and people, leading to uneven economic recovery. ”
A number of large companies have announced plans to resize or calibrate their office space in the coming years to accommodate a more hybrid style of office and home work.
Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook,
are just some of the companies that have either extended telecommuting allowances indefinitely, or have announced a permanent, long-term transition to telecommuting.
This week, the British construction company Nationwide announced the closure of three of its offices in Swindon in the south-west of England, while introducing a new flexible work policy that will allow 13,000 employees to split time between work at home or at company headquarters.
SEE: Back to work: What the new norm will look like after the pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
According to a KPMG survey: “Wholesale shifts towards teleworking are still the exception, not the rule.” It found that 30% of business leaders were committed to a hybrid way of working, while only 21% sought to hire talents to work predominantly remotely, up from 73 percent in last year’s survey.
One of the topics of office downsizing, KPMG noted that some companies may have already introduced changes during 2020. “Either the number has already decreased or plans have changed because the impact of extended, unplanned telecommuting has taken a toll on some employees.” said the company.
The research also provided insight into the extent to which COVID-19 had accelerated plans for the digital transformation of enterprises.
Three-quarters (74 percent) said the pandemic accelerated progress in a few months, while 15 percent said COVID-19 put them “years ahead of where they expected it to be.”