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PwC: Economic Impact of Covid-19 Key Concern for Top Execs

Top executives worldwide are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and fear a second wave of the virus, a study conducted by services provider PwC revealed this week.

PwC surveyed 989 CFOs in 23 countries as companies worldwide resume operations and employees gradually return to their offices after coronavirus lockdowns.

More specifically, the study found that 60 percent are concerned about the effects of a global economic downturn and 58 percent about the possibility of a new wave of infections.

At the same time however, the majority at 71 percent say they feel very confident that they would be able to respond effectively should the virus recur.

Key concerns among the CFOs surveyed include the possibility of a new coronavirus wave and how to keep people safe, the need for flexible plans to address a global economic downturn and re-engage customers, and finding new revenue streams through innovations.

Indicatively, 75 percent of CFOs are planning new workplace safety measures and 72 percent are reconfiguring work sites to promote social distancing ahead of on-site work while more than half said they will take steps to improve the remote work experience (52 percent) and to make remote work a permanent option (52 percent).

Of the CFOs polled, 26 percent expect productivity loss due to the lack of remote work capabilities in the coming month.

The majority – 79 percent of CFOs – said they felt very confident about their companies’ ability to provide a safe environment for customers and employees (74 percent).

The vast majority of CFOs in Turkey (92 percent) and Cyprus (89%) are most likely to report being very confident about meeting customer safety expectations.

In efforts to cover lost ground and rebuild revenue streams, 63 percent of CFOs cite offering new or enhanced products or services as the next step. In this direction, they said they would prioritise talent changes such as hiring and upskilling.

At the same time, more than half (53 percent) expect a decrease in revenues of up to 25 percent as a result of the current Covid-19 crisis.

In an attempt to stabilize losses, companies would opt for cost containment measures with 81 percent saying they will consider it in response to the crisis and 56 percent that they will defer or cancel planned investments.

“The pandemic came as an unexpected phenomenon that no one had predicted, creating significant challenges. Having now moved on to the second phase of the crisis and planning for the next day, key features of the businesses that will survive and succeed are flexibility and resilience,” said Kyriakos Andreou, advisory leader, PwC of Greece.

“It requires a change in the way we think and act, the evolution of corporate culture and the adoption of digital transformation so that organizations can come out stronger from this ordeal,” he added.

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