Results from a McKinsey survey of global executives in early June help to illustrate how COVID-19 has changed the world in the first six months of the year.

The data was taken from a quarterly survey, collating responses from 2,222 participants across seven core industries — travel, consumer goods, automotive, tech, pharma, financial services and utilities.

One chart that stood out in the report was the timeline respondents provided regarding how long they thought it would take to return to full operations.

On average, around one third of respondents predicted a rebound within six months — a point of view seemingly shared by stock markets as prices remain buoyant:

McKinsey chart: When respondents’ businesses will be fully operational again, by industry


At the same time, “nearly nine in 10 executives say conditions in their home economies are worse now than six months ago, which is the largest share to
say so since April 2009 — several months after the 2008 financial crisis,” McKinsey said.


Future of work

The survey also offered insights on a number of post-COVID trends being closely monitored by investors, such as the shift to remote working solutions and accelerated digitisation.

In advanced economies, 63 per cent of respondents whose organisations are fully operational said they now “execute a larger share of our work virtually and remotely”.

McKinsey: Most significant changes to operations from COVID-19

But despite the disruption, the general tone was one of cautious optimism looking towards the second half of the year.

“After reporting record pessimism on expected demand and profits two months ago, executives’ outlook on both fronts is tempering,” McKinsey said.

In addition, “views on company profits are still more negative than positive, but the share expecting higher profitability continues to grow”.

And more than half of those surveyed (52 per cent) held the view that the global economy will be in better shape in six months time — a reading that leaves optimism on the broader outlook at its highest level since 2014.