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As States Look to Reopen, CFOs Prioritize Workplace Safety, Employee Health, Survey

May 04, 2020, 09:10 AM
Filed Under: Industry News
Related: COVID-19, PwC, Survey

The fourth release of PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey reveals 77 percent of U.S. chief financial officers (CFOs) anticipate changing workplace safety measures upon returning to on-site work. As employers focus on protecting employees, 65 percent anticipate reconfiguring work sites to promote physical distancing and 52 percent anticipate changing and/or alternating shifts to reduce exposure. In addition, half of survey respondents expect a higher demand for employee protection.

As states start to lift stay-at-home orders and reopen local economies, 52 percent of CFO respondents said their businesses could return to normal in less than three months if COVID-19 were to end immediately. Increasingly, business leaders are considering layoffs as they look to contain costs in the face of an ongoing pandemic. According to the survey, 32 percent of CFOs are now anticipating layoffs, up 6 points from two weeks ago, and more than half (53 percent) said they are projecting revenue/profit losses to be greater than 10 percent this year.

“As some states look to reopen, business leaders are recognizing they not only play a crucial role in the health, safety, and stability of their employees, but also that of their communities,” said Tim Ryan, PwC’s US Chair and Senior Partner. “As we continue to navigate this crisis, I’m encouraged to see that despite difficult decisions and potential profit losses, business leaders are continuing to do what they can to put their people first and, in turn, help support local communities and economies as the nation looks to rebound.”

New insight from survey data shows that less than a quarter of respondents (22 percent) indicate they plan to implement contact tracing as part of their plan to reopen their workplaces and around half (49 percent) anticipate making remote work a permanent option for roles that can accommodate it.

“While business leaders begin to forge strategies to bring employees back into the workplace and to engage with their customers in person, they are realizing that the physical workplace and customer experience will be drastically different from before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Amity Millhiser, PwC’s Chief Clients Officer. “Many of them are turning to new technologies and digital solutions to help them adapt and maintain social distancing, which will likely be a new normal for the foreseeable future.”

As businesses move toward a return to the workplace, PwC has created Check-In with Automatic Contact Tracing – a tool that allows companies to help quickly identify and alert employees who may have come into contact with a co-worker at the workplace who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Additional Survey Results

The Top Concern of CFOs:

  • 71 percent of respondents indicate that financial impacts remain a top concern.


  • 80 percent of respondents expect that COVID-19 will decrease their company’s revenue and/or profits this year.
  • 12 percent of respondents report that COVID-19’s impact on revenue and/or profits is still too difficult to assess at present.
  • 5 percent of respondents expect a decrease in revenues of over 50 percent.

Financial Actions:

  • 86 percent are considering implementing cost containment (up 4 percentage points).
  • 70 percent are considering deferring or canceling planned investments. Of these respondents, 80 percent are considering delaying or canceling facilities/general CAPEX, 62 percent considering Workforce and 48 percent considering IT.
  • 40 percent of CFOs are indicating no change to their strategies (up 6 percentage points) while 15 percent indicated an increased appetite for M&A.
  • 91 percent plan to include a discussion of COVID-19 in upcoming external reporting.
  • 50 percent plan to include discussion around COVID-19 in financial statements.

Supply Chains:

  • 56 percent are planning to develop additional, alternate sourcing options for their supply chains.
  • 54 percent are planning to understand the financial and operational health of their suppliers.

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