KPMG Research Casts Doubt on ‘New Normal’

According to recent KPMG research, major companies are rethinking whether to cut back on office space, as they expect most employees to return to their desks once the pandemic is over.

KPMG’s research shows 30 percent of respondents said they plan to have most employees working remotely two to three days per week.

KPMG said the results suggest that bosses were more confident about a return to normal office life thanks to the “positive momentum” of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. CEOs also feel they are on stronger footing than they were a year ago, thanks to successful digitization initiatives.

Despite this, only 31 percent of CEOs said they anticipated a return to normal in 2021, while 45 percent expect things to return to normal in 2022. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of companies said they would wait until a vaccine had been rolled out before asking their staff to return. Seventy-six percent of the respondents said they would wait for the government to declare it safe to return to the office before encouraging their staff to do so.

Several major companies – Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce, Spotify and others – have announced plans to resize or recalibrate their office space in the coming years to accommodate for a more hybrid style of in-office and at-home work.

According to KPMG’s survey: “wholesale moves toward remote working remain the exception rather than the rule”. It found that 30 percent of business leaders were committed to a hybrid model of working patterns, while just 21 percent were looking to hire talent to work predominantly remotely, down from 73 percent in last year’s survey.

KPMG noted some businesses already have implemented changes. “Either downsizing has already taken place, or plans have changed as the impact of extended, unplanned, remote working has taken a toll on some employees,” the company said.

The survey also offered insight into the extent to which COVID-19 had fast-forwarded businesses’ digital transformation plans.

Three-quarters acknowledged the pandemic had accelerated progress by a matter of months, while 15 percent said COVID-19 had put them “years ahead of where they expected to be.”