Majority of CEOs don’t expect a return to ‘normal’ until 2022 — KPMG survey

Majority of CEOs don’t expect a return to ‘normal’ until 2022 — KPMG survey
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KUALA LUMPUR (March 29): A year after the pandemic broke out, 45% out of 500 chief executive officers surveyed globally are not expecting things to return to 'normal' until sometime in 2022, according to KPMG PLT.

In contrast, about 31% anticipate it will happen later this year. “Interestingly, only 6% of CEOs in Asia Pacific predict a return to ‘normal’ by this year, with a significant majority (59%) envisioning it will only happen in 2022,” it said in a statement today.

The findings, extracted from the 2021 KPMG CEO Outlook Pulse Survey, also showed that about two-thirds or 61% of the CEOs polled will look for a successful Covid-19 vaccine rollout — where at least half of the population is vaccinated — before asking their staff to return to offices.

According to the survey, nine out of 10 leaders intend to ask their employees to report when they have been vaccinated in order to protect the wider workforce.

However, the study found that CEOs in Asia Pacific are also worried that misinformation on the safety of the vaccine would cause their employees not to take it, as 35% considered this their most pressing concern regarding vaccine distribution. And 68% of the CEOs here want to see government encouragement or enablement as a prompt to return to a normal course of business.

KPMG managing partner in Malaysia Datuk Johan Idris said the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is providing leaders with a much-needed dose of optimism in preparation for the new reality.

“Unsurprisingly however, CEOs want to be confident that their workforce is protected against this virus before making any major business decisions. We can see this in how CEOs are only anticipating returning to business as ‘normal’ in 2022,” he said.

KPMG managing partner in Malaysia Datuk Johan Idris (Photo by KPMG)

He also noted how the pandemic year of 2020 has changed the way CEOs adapt their businesses to the "new normal" and develop creative ways to sustain operations in a period of prolonged uncertainty.

“Now, over one-third of CEOs in Asia Pacific consider their business model changed forever. Business leaders must now seriously plan for the long-term implications of the pandemic and grab this opportunity to redefine what the new normal looks like,” he added.

Tan Choe Choe