CEO survey predicts full return to in-office working by 2026

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CEO survey predicts full return to in-office working by 2026


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KPMG’s latest CEO Outlook survey makes for grim reading for those currently enjoying remote and hybrid working.

Out of 1,300 global CEOs of some of the world’s largest businesses, two-thirds (68%) predict a full return to in-office working by 2026.

And worse still, 87% of leaders believe financial rewards, favourable assignments, and promotion opportunities will be linked to office attendance in the future.

Though the pandemic upended decades-long ways of working, return-to-office mandates have come in thick and fast over the last year, and most companies are currently operating a hybrid model.

Pushes towards in-office working have already created tensions between leadership and employees, so further turbulence is to be expected should the C-suite expect a five-day week to be completed in person.

As workers face inflation and cost of living struggles amid stagnant wages, the costs associated with commuting in and out of an office weigh heavier.

And these costs aren’t just financial; the time spent commuting is time missed with family, completing necessary chores, preparing food, and exercising.

ESG and AI are also hot topics

Aside from talent, ESG (environmental, social and governance) and disruptive technology are both hot topics for CEOs right now.

Almost a quarter (24%) believe that over the next three years, ESG will have the greatest impact on customer relationships, and a further 16% say it will help build brand reputation.

Generative AI is changing every sector, and companies (and employees) who implement it effectively, and leverage its potential will have the advantage.

Some 70% of CEOs are investing heavily in AI as their competitive edge for the future, and half expect to see a return on this investment in three to five years. Increased profitability was cited as the number one benefit of implementing generative AI within an organisation.

Growth predicted

The survey also reports that three-quarters (77%) are confident in the growth prospects of their own company, compared to 73% in 2022.

The top risks to growth are listed as geopolitical and political uncertainty, operational issues, emerging/disruptive tech, supply chains, regulatory concerns, environmental/climate change, interest rates, cyber security, reputational risk, and talent.

While there’s plenty of overlap of concerns with 2022, talent is a new entry for this year.

Nhlamu Dlomu, Global Head of People at KPMG says, “The war for talent may have softened in this period of economic uncertainty, but the evidence suggests a one-size-fits-all approach to return-to-office could be detrimental.”

CEOs must make decisions on critical issues like returning to pre-pandemic ways of working, and understand how this will impact how they support, attract and retain talent over the next three years.

Unimpressed by your organisation’s return-to-office, ESG and AI plans? Check out the Finextra Jobs Board today to see what else is on offer, like these.

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This content is contributed or sourced from third parties but has been subject to Finextra editorial review.