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Corporate outlooks in COVID-19 era

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The post-COVID world may as well be lived amid the shadows of the SOPs and social distancing measures. The lifestyle we once took for granted seems to be the act of the past. Today, as we edge at the end of 2020, the world has changed drastically beginning from the lockdown imposed after the first wave of COVID-19 hit the world earlier this year. From the micro to the macro levels, the transformation has been swift and severe. Industries such as aviation, hotel, and textile, which were seen as the strongest among the competition faltered in front of the lockdown and when businesses were forced to shut down. Employee layoffs occurred without a hint as businesses suffered losses they could not recover from. It was a Great Depression and the cities reflected war zones.
The findings of a survey conducted by Fortune speaks volume of the impact COVID-19 had on the world. The respondents to this survey were the CEOs managing such companies that were on the Fortune 500 list in 2020.
Among the respondents, 52.4% said that the economic activity will return to the pre-pandemic stage by 2022 (first quarter). Nearly 25% of the respondents perceived that such normalcy will not be seen until the first quarter of 2023. The COVID-19 has also changed how professionals conducted their work. In the new normal, work-from-home has become the standard. The survey showed that 26.2% of the respondents viewed employees will prefer not to return to the workplace. Out of these responses, 20.2% thought that the employees may return to their workplaces by January 2021 while 17.9% opine that this will happen not before June 2021.
The world of aviation has been shaken to its core when the passengers suspended or canceled their trips. 51.1% of the respondents suggested that business travel at their company may not return to the levels as observed during the pre-pandemic days. In response to the question, “have you laid workers in response to the crisis?” 22.6% of the CEOs said that more than 10% of the workforce was laid off. 48.9% said that they did not order any layoff.
Linking with layoffs is the total employment at the company. In this regard, 53.6% of the CEOs shared that the employment in January 2021 will be less while 13.1% viewed that it will be more or less the same. Only 3.6% said that it will be more. The COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting lockdown also affected the compensation. 50% of respondents agreed to the cut in compensation imposed in salaries. However, 48.8% of the respondents did not agree to take such a step. When asked about the impact of technology and its role in our lives, 75% of the respondents believed that their company’s operations will be affected by the pace of technological transformation. 19% viewed there be no such impact.
The COVID-19 has also changed how businesses and businessmen viewed investment opportunities at home or abroad. The survey asked the CEOs about the best investment destination in 2021. The US was considered to be the best place for investment by 74.3% of the respondents. Asia (excluding China) was ranked second place with 11.5% of respondents viewing it as a feasible destination for making investments. China was voted by 9% of the respondents while Europe and India were seen as a suitable place for investment by 2.6% of the respondents.
Such views and data will bode beneficial for businesses across the world. However, nothing can be said with surety about how businesses will look like or how will they strategize. The COVID-19 has altered how businesses pursued their strategic objectives. The companies need to go with the flow and ascertain the best strategy as and when needed as the consumer dynamics on which marketing insights were based on has also changed because of the pandemic.