Half of CFOs expect productivity to fall due to lack of remote working capability

6 Apr 2020

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A PwC survey found that more than half of CFOs expect productivity to fall due to a lack of remote working capabilities.

PwC’s latest bi-weekly survey of more than 150 CFOs around the world has revealed concerns about the future following the coronavirus pandemic, with 82pc of respondents saying that the outbreak has the potential to seriously impact their businesses.

The top concerns for businesses include the financial impact on operations (according to 67pc of respondents) as well as liquidity and capital resources (according to 60pc).

Just over half (52pc) expect that productivity will fall due to the lack of remote working capabilities, with 32pc expecting to lay off staff as a direct result of the pandemic. In the US, only 16pc expect to lay off staff.

With income seriously affected by the disruption, 52pc of businesses are considering measures to contain costs, and 47pc are considering deferring or cancelling planned investment and capital expenditure.

Only 13pc of finance executives said they were planning to change their strategy when it came to mergers and acquisitions. However, this global figure was quite different from the US-specific survey, which found 29pc were considering a change in plans.

‘Pre-crisis targets no longer relevant’

Respondents were also asked in a hypothetical scenario how their business would bounce back from the pandemic if the crisis were to be resolved today. Three-quarters of finance leaders said they felt assured that their businesses could return to normal within three months if a sudden turnaround was achieved.

Commenting on the survey, David McGee of PwC Ireland said: “With pre-crisis targets no longer relevant, the survey highlights that many companies are grappling with how to maintain financial and operational stability given the sharp drop in activity for many of them.

“We’re seeing business leaders focusing on the immediate working capital implications as well as their longer-term ability to recover post Covid-19, including protecting their people. Leaders are looking at their strategies head-on, and are positive about their recovery.”

It follows an OECD report last week, which suggested that the impact of the initial coronavirus containment measures on the organisation’s member states will be ‘least severe’ in Ireland. Ireland is expected to see a GDP dip of approximately 15pc, versus a predicted 35pc dip in Greece.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic