CFOs looking to make remote work, telecommuting more permanent following COVID-19, says Gartner survey

The move to remote work may be a bit more permanent than many managers and employees realize.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

The new normal telecommuting may be a bit more permanent than realized, as 74% of CFOs say they expect to move previously on-site employees remote post-COVID-19, according to a Gartner survey.

The survey, which had 317 CFO respondents on March 30, highlighted how remote work may become more of the norm as companies look to cut commercial real estate costs.

One of my working theories about the COVID-19 crisis was that the percentage of telecommuters would swell as enterprises realized they could be as effective and save money on commercial real estate. We've chronicled the remote work shift week to week during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Gartner found that almost a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20% of their on-site employees to remote work permanently. The research firm is taking the pulse of the COVID-19 CXO shifts in a series of surveys.


Among the key shifts from CFOs and enterprises as they manage cash via COVID-19 shutdowns:

  • 81% of CFOs plan to exceed their contractual obligations to hourly workers and to fund that they are using remote work to offer flexible schedules and maintain operations.
  • 90% of CFOs said their accounting close operations will be able to run effectively without disruptions off-site.
  • 20% of CFOs said they are cutting their on-premise technology spending with 12% planning the same move.
  • 13% of CFOs have already cut real estate expenses with another 9% planning cuts in the months to come.

The Gartner CFO survey also has data on other ways CFOs have already cut costs. The actions highlight various enterprise moves to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Executives are pursuing multiple options to avoid layoffs. Actions already taken include:

  • 60% have canceled all leadership events and offsites.
  • 58% have frozen hiring.
  • 58% have canceled conference spending with 51% freezing travel and expenses.
  • 49% have delayed capital expenditures.
  • And 32% have delayed or frozen current new hire offers.

In addition, CFOS are managing cash closely and reluctant to take on more debt even as they tap lines of credit. Sales leaders are also testing lower-cost sales models, according to Gartner. Metrics such as seller activities, productivity, and customer engagement are being tracked to inform future budget cuts. To date, only 8% of sales leaders are considering shifting traditional outside and field sales to virtual positions permanently.

TechRepublic: 3 resources to help you master video conferences and Slack while telecommuting | Telecommuting policies

Another Gartner survey found that 71% of CXOs say business continuity and productivity are the biggest risks from COVID-19 followed by employee health and safety (69%), financial risk (45%), information security risk (40%), fraud risk (27% and IT risk (27%).

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