70% of CFOs are very confident they can provide a safe working environment

As worksites reopen, over two thirds of CFOs are very confident they can meet employees and customers’ safety expectations, according to the most recent PwC COVID-19 CFO Pulse survey.

So, 75% of CFOs feel very confident they can meet customers’ safety expectations, and 70% are very confident they can provide a safe working environment for employees. Though, only about half of CFOs say they are very confident about their company’s ability to manage their employees’ well-being and morale.

Regarding the future of finance, 85% of CFOs expect some decrease in revenues and/or profits this year as a result of COVID-19. Capex investments are CFOs’ most likely source of deferrals or cuts (83%), compared to just 18% who are planning cuts to R&D and 16% who expect to scale back their investment in digital transformation.

More than one-third (37%) of CFOs also expect changes in staffing — temporary leaves or furloughs — due to low or slow demand, and another third anticipate productivity loss to occur over the next month due to lack of remote work capabilities.

Industrial manufacturing and automotive CFOs are more likely than average to expect changes in staffing (46%) and layoffs (39%) in the coming month. Meanwhile, health industries CFOs are more likely to expect higher demand for employee protections (58%) and insufficient staffing for critical work (36%).

Given the need to limit the number of people in close contact, about half (49%) of CFOs are considering making remote work a permanent option where feasible, which corresponds to another finding: 72% of CFOs say that the work flexibility they have created in response to the crisis will benefit their company in the long run.

PwC COVID-19 CFO Pulse survey conclusions

  • Although 42% of CFOs believe their company could return to ‘business as usual’ within three months if COVID-19 were to end today, there is a growing sentiment in many territories that recovery may take much longer.
  • Of health industries respondents, 82% note that human interaction is required to deliver products and services, and 49% will not be able to effectively work remotely.
  • CFOs in Denmark (72%), Germany (67%) and Mexico (69%) are most likely to consider making virtual working arrangements a permanent option.
  • 48% of CFOs are looking at accelerating automation and other new ways of working — among Germany CFOs, this jumps to 76%.