Telework and the future: what do CEOs think?

Teletrabajo y futuro: qué opinan los CEO

Large technological companies, industry experts, teams. We have already addressed the teleworking debate from various angles, but what do company managers think? Are teleworking’s days numbered in companies?

According to the latest survey by the consulting firm KPMG Spain, three out of four Spanish CEOs (78%) expect that, in three years, the fully face-to-face work model will be recovered.

In fact, 89% of Spanish CEOs would be willing to reward through compensation, salary increases or promotions those professionals who make the effort to return to the office.

It seems that the end of teleworking is one of the medium-term forecasts of Spanish managers. This is reflected in this report which, beyond analyzing their opinions about remote work, offers an in-depth look at the perceptions and strategies of more than 1,300 global business leaders.

Growing in uncertain times

According to KPMG, despite the vagaries of international politics and fluctuating trade dynamics, confidence in the global economy remains almost unchanged year after year, even surpassing pre-pandemic confidence levels.

Compared to 71% in 2022, this year the number of global CEOs who are confident about the economy is up 3 percentage points. Nearly three out of four CEOs do so for the next three years. This reflects a clear resilience and collective focus to return the world to a long-term sustainable growth trajectory.

However, when asked about their confidence in the growth prospects of their own companies, the response is not as positive. This confidence is at its lowest level since the last three years. In 2020, 85% of CEOs were confident in their growth; now, only 77% are.

The changing role of telework

As Nhlamu Dlomu, Global Head of People at KPMG International, points out, the report’s data highlights the great pressure on senior management to make quick decisions on talent and human resources issues. From retention and recruitment to work models: hybrid, face-to-face or telecommuting.

In the midst of these challenges, an interesting trend emerges: resistance to teleworking. Despite the benefits of hybrid and remote work experienced during the pandemic, 64% of global CEOs anticipate a full return to the office in the next three years. Rewards for employees willing to physically return to the workplace are also at stake, reaffirming the persistence of an office-centric mindset.

The debate between teleworking and returning to the office continues to raise hackles. While it is true that some consider that the hybrid work has had a very positive impact on the productivity for the last three years and has a strong employee support, especially among young people, managers are increasingly opting to do away with this 100% remote mode.

Therefore, as organizations continue to implement their back-to-office plans, it is crucial that the leaders adopt a long-term vision that takes into consideration the employee value proposition and cover their needs to ensure that they are nurture and support talent.

Generative AI in large companies

Generative AI is an increasingly hot topic in boardrooms, and leaders are looking to better understand its potential and how to implement this technology into their business strategies. The challenge? Invest strategically and have the right skills to take full advantage of the opportunities it presents.

As tools such as Bard and ChatGPT have gained prominence, global CEOs are increasingly recognizing the seemingly limitless potential of generative AI and are keeping their foot on the gas in terms of investment and exploration of the technology.

Global CEOs are making generative AI a top investment priority. The survey shows that 70% are investing in generative AI as their competitive advantage for the future, and 52% expect to see a return on their investment in three to five years.

But despite a willingness to press ahead with their investments, global CEOs recognize that emerging technologies can introduce risks that must be addressed. The 57% consider ethical challenges to be their top concern when it comes to implementing generative AI, followed closely by those who feel it is the lack of regulation. Not to mention the security risks…

Although AI can help detect cyber attacks, the 82% believe it could also create new dangers by providing new attack strategies for adversaries. And even with all the attention that has been paid to cybersecurity in recent years, more than a quarter (27%) of CEOs are still unprepared for a potential cyberattack.

Telework and the future: reflections of the report

Technology, talent, ESG. In a world where politics, technology and societal expectations are constantly changing, CEOs are carefully balancing between adapting and anticipating these transformations. Confidence in the global economy and investment in emerging technologies coexist with a rethinking of telecommuting and a renewed focus on sustainability.

The big question that emerges from the KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook is whether, in this complex and dynamic landscape, telework will be a permanent feature of the future of work or whether we are witnessing the last days of this widely adopted mode of work during the pandemic. Only time, and the continued adaptation of companies to a changing world, will reveal the answer.

If you want to know more about the views of executives, we share the link to the full report: KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook.