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78% of CFOs see more remote working and work flexibility in future plans

A new survey shows that 76% of Ireland’s chief financial officers expect a decrease in their company’s revenues and profits this year as a result of Covid-19.

28% of CFOs expect this decrease to be 25% or more, the latest PwC CFO Pulse survey shows. 

PwC said that fewer global companies – 20% – expect this level of revenue and profit reduction.  

But the survey also shows that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 15% of Irish companies either expect no impact on revenues and/or profits or actually expect an increase. 

According to the survey, which was conducted last week, more Irish finance leaders believe that it will take more than a year to recover from the pandemic than any other country participating in the survey. 

Over a quarter now believe that if Covid-19 were to end today, it would take their business more than a year to get back to “business as usual”. 
This was up from 17% two months ago and just 11% globally

A further 40% believe it will take between one and six months compared to 50% globally.

But the survey showed evidence to suggest that some aspects of the current situation will make business better in the long run and therefore may be here to stay. 

Respondents said these included greater remote working and work flexibility (78%), better resilience (68%), leaner operations (49%), automation and technology investments (43%) and new ways to serve customers (42%). 

A significant proportion of Irish CFOs – 80% – also said they were “very confident” when it comes to their ability to provide a safe working environment.

77% of CFOs also said they are confident of providing a clear response and shut-down protocols if there is a second wave of infection.

Today’s survey also shows that Irish finance leaders are much more concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their workforce (28%) than global peers (13%). 

With lockdown easing, companies are accelerating their plans to be safe as they transition back to on-site working.

 88% of respondents now plan to reconfigure work sites to promote physical distancing compared to 76% a month ago, while 72% now plan to change workplace safety requirements (wearing masks and offering testing to workers), up from 59% last month.

28% also said they now plan to reduce their real-estate footprint, up from 12% a month ago. 

David McGee, Strategy & Markets Partner at PwC Ireland, said that companies are clearly concerned about a new wave of infection and the impact on their financial position. 

“There is a need to remain focused on adjusting to this new normal, protecting your people and re-engaging your customers while at the same time pursuing new revenue streams through product and service innovation,” Mr McGee said. 

“Companies need to continue to do their scenario planning, and in particular, now in light of a no-deal Brexit on the cards,” he added.

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