back to article Whatever 'normal' is, global CEOs don't expect to see it return before 2022 and are ploughing funds into security

KPMG's latest survey of global CEOs shows widespread belief that the remote-working trend will linger into 2022 as the world gets to grip with COVID-19. Almost half (45 per cent) of bosses surveyed by the accountancy biz said they don't expect a return to "normal" by next year. A further third (31 per cent) were more upbeat, …

  1. A K Stiles
    Meh

    90% of CEOs expecting return to 'normal' working

    Thank heavens the place I work for has taken the experience of the last year and looks to be considering a new 'normal'.

    It looks like the expectation is that, for most office staff, normal will be 40-80% home-based working with 60-20% office-based, depending on the requirements of individuals and their roles.

    We've managed to grow and, in a lot of instances, be more productive over the last 12 months out of the giant echoing open-plan space. Far fewer people have actually been off sick as nobody has decided they have to soldier on and come to work anyway, coughing and spluttering over everyone and everything in range. Some of our recruitment has been people who do not live within any sort of commutable distance to the physical office and do not intend, nor are expected, to move closer. Some staff have had it agreed and arranged to move home away from the work site.

    No it's not ideal in some respects for everyone to be stuck at home, and some folks are really struggling with the lack of in-person 'human' contact, but I don't expect to see a time, whilst I remain in this department (or possibly the entire org), where there is an expectation again that everyone should be in the office full time.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I think that that will indeed be the one good thing that this pandemic will have taught CEOs : your staff doesn't have to be in the office to get work done.

      Until 2019, working at home was a privilege rarely given, and sparingly at that. Then COVID trampled all over that notion.

      I'm looking forward to a world where I can work from home when possible, go to client sites when necessary, and take my wife to the restaurant again on week-ends every now and then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Until 2019, working at home was a privilege rarely given

        I once had a manager who said "working from home is a privilege". To which I replied, "no, having me work from home is a privilege. Would you rather I spend an hour travelling when I get paged, or dial in? Up to you". He's a CTO somewhere now, good luck to them.

  2. Frank Fisher

    The world has gone mad

    Why on earth are we unable to have business as normal now? What is going on? We have had a minor infectious disease that has taken us back to the devastating plague year death rates of.... 2003. Smack on the thirty year average. Yet that blip in deaths - of the very old - is being used as a rationale for turning the world upside down. Why?

    qui bono?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The world has gone mad

      Qui bono indeed.

      Who benefits from the damaging garbage people like you spew?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The world has gone mad

        Maybe it's people who don't have any individual friends who will benefit, who depend on being able to go into a crowd to have a captive audience for getting (physically) close to?

        I find those people creepy... the type who keep standing closer and closer to you at a bar, or in a queue, in the hope they can get away with the incremental invasion of your personal space.

        But even creeps "have rights".

        But perhaps that's just my introverted description of extroverts? Or maybe just of arseholes who nobody would want to "form a bubble" with?

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: The world has gone mad

      Yeah, because no one under 80 died from COVID, right? And all those 30-somethings, 20-somethings, children who died from it... they are fake news, didn't happen, right?.

      Wrong. It's twats like you spreading misinformation about the severity, infectiousness and mortality of this "minor" disease that enable it to continue spreading.

      The "blip" as you call it has only been restricted to around 2.6 million worldwide because of the global extreme measures taken.

      As a percentage of the 7 billion people on the planet, that is tiny, almost insignificant. But that's statistics.

      As an absolute number, which is the reality, it's an awful tragedy, one which I certainly hope never to see again in my lifetime, nor my kids' lifetimes.

      Yes, lockdowns and restrictions are a burden, and we all want them gone as soon as is safe, but without these the death rates would have been way higher.

      People with your attitude are not part of the solution. You're part of the problem.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The world has gone mad

        Yes, twats are indeed spreading this crap. But is it entirely twatishness or are the twats being used by somebody? It has real-world effects in that there are now reports that vaccine uptake is being affected by the nonsense* about the Oxford/A-Z vaccine even whilst a 3rd wave is on the rise in Europe. Who's pulling FF's strings?

        * Yes, the statistics say it's nonsense. Even without the statistics allowing a dubious and remote risk to out-weigh a much larger, real risk is still nonsense.

    3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

      Re: The world has gone mad

      "minor infectious disease"?

      I think anyone who's spent the last year of their life busting their guts to try and stop people dying in a healthcare system that has been almost overwhelmed by this "minor disease" might have a different assessment to you. Don't just look at the numbers, look at the impact those numbers are having.

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      That "blip in deaths"

      Is only as small as it is due to the extreme measures that were undertaken. If idiots like you were making decisions and we all just decided "its just the flu, keep everything open as normal and don't wear a mask" the death rates would have at least an order of magnitude worse.

      People like you were spreading the lie that its "no worse than the flu". Well 500+ deaths in the US, or 20-30x the normal flu tally, say otherwise. And the precautions taken has caused this winter's flu to be almost non-existent in the US - the death rate from influenza has fallen by over 99.9%. So in reality this virus is many thousands of times more deadly than our typical seasonal flu!

    5. Twanky Silver badge

      Re: The world has gone mad

      Frank Fisher:

      '...minor infectious disease...'

      '...blip in deaths - of the very old...'

      'qui bono?'

      Doctor Syntax:

      '...people like you...'

      Jimmy2Cows:

      'Yeah, because no one under 80 died from COVID, right? And all those 30-somethings, 20-somethings, children who died from it... they are fake news, didn't happen, right?.'

      '...twats like you...'

      '...spreading misinformation about the severity, infectiousness and mortality of this "minor" disease that enable it to continue spreading.'

      '...without these [lockdowns] the death rates would have been way higher.'

      'People with your attitude...'

      Doctor Syntax:

      '...twats are indeed spreading this crap.'

      '...are the twats being used by somebody?'

      '...real-world effects in that there are now reports that vaccine uptake is being affected by the nonsense* about the Oxford/A-Z vaccine...'

      DS999:

      'That "blip in deaths" Is only as small as it is due to the extreme measures that were undertaken.'

      '...idiots like you...'

      'People like you...'

      ---

      Frank Fisher has used emotional and dismissive language about a sensitive subject. The 'blip in deaths' is not small and does not exclusively occur among the elderly. Oh yes, and it's 'Cui bono?' not 'qui bono?'.

      Various people have been triggered to respond with personal insults and have raised 'straw man' arguments against what they assume to be Frank Fisher's position. He did not, for example, mention vaccines.

      The following is my opinion based on some facts which I believe to be true (if the facts which underpin my opinion are proved to be wrong then I will need to consider changing my opinion).

      1) It's a nasty disease that has killed a large number of people. That is to say that a large number of people who are dead would have been alive now if they had not caught the disease. However, the published numbers are unreliable in the extreme. For example, Case Fatality Rates (so far) calculated from WorldOMeters are:

      China = 5.1%

      UK = 2.9%

      New Zealand = 1.0%

      Singapore = 0.05%

      Of course, we can't trust foreigners - so it must be *our* number that's true. I think the least unreliable numbers are all-cause mortality. Dead is dead; what someone died of is often an opinion.

      2) The argument that things would have been worse (Jimmy2Cows and DS999) if extreme measures had not been taken is more-or-less untestable. The corresponding argument that 'people like you' are responsible for the extreme measures not working as well as had been hoped for is divisive and completely circular. There has been at least one study which has attempted to measure the degree of compliance with lockdown and similar restrictions (for example by using Google's mobility data) and look for corresponding effects in the rates of hospital admissions and deaths - I understand it has found little, if any, correspondence. The study is under review, as indeed it should be. If it is flawed then it must be challenged, not suppressed.

      Imperial College issued a statement to the effect that 'We can show that interventions have been effective because our earlier predictions didn't happen'. Brilliant.

      At this point I would like to thank Prof Ferguson for ably demonstrating that there are more important things in his life than following the lockdown rules. I wish I'd had the courage to be a bit more rebellious than taking more than an hour to walk the dog.

      3) I believe that much press coverage has over-hyped the disease. This is not that unusual - press coverage usually over-hypes whatever is being reported. I don't think many media outlets will carry a story headlined 'I caught Coronvirus and got better' unless the subject of the story had so many other things going wrong with them it was a miracle they survived those. Anecdote: My mid-80's mother-in-law had a very minor stroke and was admitted to hospital last year. She tested negative for the bug on admission and positive a few days later. She did not notice any of the diagnostic symptoms in herself and was discharged to complete her isolation at home. It's not too surprising she didn't make the headline news.

      4) I believe that many recent death diagnoses in the UK are more flawed than in previous years. Changes to procedures in death registration in the UK make comparing data from before and after the change less reliable (see https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/877302/guidance-for-doctors-completing-medical-certificates-of-cause-of-death-covid-19.pdf). I do not know if there have been comparable changes in other parts of the world.

      5) I believe annual 'flu vaccinations are not very useful. I have observed no beneficial change in annual all-cause mortality for any subset of the population in England and Wales since the introduction of the 'flu jab for over 65s in the year 2000. There may be other data available from other countries. There *has* been an apparent smoothing out of excess Winter mortality (apart from Winters 2014/15 and 2017/18) from year 2000 but whole-year figures do not seem to be affected. Spreading the deaths over the whole year instead of clustered around the Winter months may have benefits for the NHS. I believe many other vaccinations are or have been very beneficial to the world. Smallpox and polio vaccinations are good examples.

      6) I do not believe that the Coronavirus vaccines will prove to be harmful. However, their approvals for use have undoubtedly been rushed through. I think none have completed phase III trials. Being somewhat elderly, I was offered the jab early and held an internal debate on whether to accept it (AstraZeneca as it turned out). I decided that if it did turn out to be harmful then the sooner 'they' found that out (before putting it in my children or grandchildren) the better. Yes, I can confirm that the jab itself was painless. I either developed mild fever-like side-effects (similar to 'flu vaccinations I've had in the past) or I caught something during the outing to the clinic - I got better. Yes, I'll take the follow-up jab when it's due if stocks are available.

      7) As with pharmaceutical interventions, I believe non-pharmaceutical interventions should be assessed for effectiveness and potential for harm *before* being deployed. The UK and many parts of the world had developed a 'play-book' for epidemic/pandemic planning which they apparently threw out at the first challenge. As some of my ex-colleagues used to say 'a good plan survives first contact with the enemy' and 'PPPPPP' - proper planning prevents piss-poor performance. It does not surprise me (now) that Wuhan was locked-down - I do think it likely that lockdown was in China's epidemic/pandemic response plan.

      8) I do not think that lockdown and other less severe restrictions ('tiers' etc) have been effective. I initially found this surprising. Given that they have not been effective it seems bizarre in the extreme to keep trying them.

      9) I do *not* believe that Bill Gates is attempting World Domination (again), or that the vaccines are made from aborted foetuses or that the Illuminati are attempting to microchip the population or that this is the first step in an alien invasion.

      10) I am not surprised that business leaders are looking at their expensive office space and wondering just how much of it they really need. It goes to show that a hell of a lot of paper shuffling can be done just as well from people's homes. Its a hell of a shock to the property markets, facilities management and lunch provision businesses though.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Whatever "normal" or "new normal" turns out to be nobody can argue that spending on security isn't due. Well over-due in many cases. Or even too late.

  4. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Our new normal

    The company I am at has confirmed that the way we are currently working will predominate the way we continue. They have gone as far as to significantly beef up the internal network speeds (all those VPN connections were really dragging the system down at first), provide a mobile WiFi dongle for those with crappy landline broadband (such as myself) and any necessary IT kit and even office furniture.

    The office space has been converted to 'collaboration spaces'; that means meeting rooms will actually be available for the times it is actually necessary.

    We have hired some people that have yet to actually visit the office and are not in commuting range (one new engineering manager lives in Northern Scotland and the office is in Plymouth) and others who live perhaps 2 to 3 hours drive away and it hasn't dented their effectiveness.

    That means I work from home unless I actually need to go into the office, usually to see just what problems the hardware we are trying to fix is having (it is very old kit, so all those decades of experience are really useful here).

    There are some people who need to be onsite all the time, but with fewer others, it is far safer for them and less noisy as well.

    I am aware that this is not the best situation for a lot of people (young families for instance and young graduates who may be in shared accommodation come to mind) but there is an option to go to the office more frequently for people in those circumstances.

    I am going into the office this week, for the second time this year and everything still seems to be getting done and product delivered.

    1. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: Our new normal

      Similar where I'm currently working.

      I only joined my current place a year ago, just as the first lockdown kicked in (UK). So far I have never gone into any of our offices for work (I dropped off some paperwork once), I don't have a office or a desk allocated, I don't even have a company ID card, as they are location specific (combined ID and swipe/tap cards for the building).

      I've had a grand total of one face-to-face client meeting, at one of the clients sites, this between lockdowns. A few people in the building fell ill a few days later (not Covid), so the client decided to shut the building down again and hasn't opened it since.

      The company I'm working for, which had apparently been a staunch work in the office only, no WFH, type company before I joined, has now formally adopted a WFH first approach. Although you can go into the office if you want (once open).

      They've been doing questionnaires, to find out who and how many people are likely to want to go into the office, and have started changes based on those the results. They've already closed some offices permanently (mostly smaller locations), and others are being either reduced in size, or converted to hot-desk hubs. Idea being if you want to go into an office, you just book (including block booking) a desk at any office location you want.

      They also launched an updated Health and Safety quiz, (is your char adjustable, good seating position, monitor size/position, working headset etc.). The updates add some additional questions specific to WFH, such as do you have a suitable desk, if not, do you have space for one, do you have a decent chair etc. If you for example state you don't have a desk, but do have space for one, they send you a desk, same for chairs, monitors, headset etc. No having to get permission from a budget holder either (which you used to need) it's just automatic now!

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