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The future of work: CEOs see staff reductions, fast-tracked technology


Major changes are about to sweep businesses in the Asia Pacific with more than 40 per cent of respondents in a survey saying they would increase contract labour and 38 per cent would reduce their full time workforce, as a result of the pandemic.


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Businesses will increase their contract-based workforce and entrench work-from-home to build greater flexibility in the post-COVID world, according to a chief executive officer survey by Westpac.

The survey of Asia Pacific business leaders showed that CEOs were already moving their supply chains back onshore. This was also partly a response to the over-reliance on China, but also because about two-thirds found that their supply chains had been disrupted during the pandemic lockdowns.

“The crisis has served to accelerate companies’ digital transformation efforts,” Westpac said.

“Over half the surveyed CEOs say that some or all of their digital transformation initiatives have been fast-tracked rather than frozen or suspended, even while most have put other investments on the back-burner.”

“Leadership styles are evolving by necessity. For example a vast majority of chief executives say the have reduced the time they now take to make decisions. Around three-quarters have changed how they communicate with staff.”

More than half had been forced to change their leadership style and 80 per cent had changed the way they used technology.

“Most expect to travel substantially less in the future.”

The financial impact of the pandemic is mixed. There was an even split between companies expecting a revenue decline in 2020 and those reporting growth, but a majority said their business had appeared to have survived the crisis.

About 40 per cent had been forced into a wholesale rethink of their strategy.

About 42 per cent said they would have more contract workers on their books while 38 per cent said they would reduce the size of their full-time workforce.

The CEOs said they had risen to the challenges thrown down by the pandemic and that 60 per cent had thrived in the environment. One company said decisions that normally took a year were now being made in a week.

Almost 70 per cent already had a post-COVID business plan and 43 per cent had started implementing it.

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