The ways companies operate have been substantially disrupted by COVID-19, but the disruptions aren’t done yet.

A PwC survey of 699 global CEOs, across 67 different countries, showed the majority agreed that some of the changes already made were here to stay.

For example 78 per cent agree remote collaboration is here to stay and 76 per cent think the same about automation.

But the majority believe further changes will be needed.

One example is a shift to on-shoring and insourcing from offshoring and outsourcing thanks to border restrictions and lockdowns.

But 39 per cent of CEOs believe the shift back will be permanent.


More digital than before

Companies will also be even more digital than they have previously been. Sixty-one per cent of CEOs say their business models will be more digital in the future.

Among more specific goals, 58 per cent say that ensuring supply chain safety will remain a focus.

Businesses want to be able to track products from production to delivery, and to ensure suppliers and partners are resilient during crises.

This is a trend that existed before COVID-19 but is expected to be accelerated by the pandemic.

PwC global chairman Bob Moritz highlighted climate change and population as two other issues that would affect the future of business.

He warned the business world post-COVID would be different and businesses needed to start preparing.

“Business leaders need to simultaneously keep their company running today and fundamentally rethink their strategy for tomorrow, so they come out of the pandemic ready to reconfigure their business to thrive in a very different world,” Moritz said.

“And they need to do that, thinking not just about the COVID-19 acceleration of change in society and the rising expectations of their broader stakeholders, but also the other issues that are going to fundamentally reshape the future of business.”


Less certain issues

However, CEOs were divided on other issues. While there was a consensus there would be lower workplace density, those surveyed were split on the role of cities.

While 34 per cent believe a shift towards de-urbanisation will continue, another 38 per cent think it is temporary.

There was also a lack of consensus on government support. One in five respondents think the level of government support is too generous and they don’t need it. But another 30 per cent think government support will be needed for the longer term.

On climate change, only 47 per cent agreed that a shift towards climate change mitigation would continue post-COVID.