In a new survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland, over one-third (34%) of business leaders believe ‘a Second Wave’ of COVID-19 is the biggest risk facing their organisation, while nearly a quarter (24%) see the reluctance of some staff to return to the office/workplace due to COVID-19 as the ‘biggest barrier’, followed closely by public transport and lack of alternative travel options on 22%.
Furthermore, a majority of business leaders (60%) believe the primary legacy of COVID-19 on their primary organisation will be a change to working practices, such as working from home. When asked this question in respect of Irish business, in general, 36% of respondents felt that the primary legacy of COVID-19 on Irish business will be that some businesses will not survive.
These are just some of the significant findings from the latest quarterly Director Sentiment Monitor, for Q2 2020 (when COVID-19 restrictions were first imposed), conducted by IoD Ireland. The research was conducted between Wednesday, 1st July and Tuesday, 7th July 2020, amongst its 3,000 members, comprising CEOs and company directors. The Director Sentiment Monitor tracks business sentiment on a quarterly basis and these latest findings are released in advance of the publication of the full survey at the end of July.
Maura Quinn, Chief Executive of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, said:
The challenges presented by COVID-19 in business terms are complex. The threat of a second wave of the coronavirus is very real and the implications of that are unknown and rooted in uncertainty. Business leaders currently see the pandemic as the most significant risk factor to their organisations. They also see it as the biggest barrier to their workforces returning to the company workplace, notably due to public transport options and the ability to implement safe social distancing measures.
The immense scale to which companies have implemented a working from home policy, where feasible, across their entire workforce has been significant as they adjusted to the new reality. How that works into the future remains to be seen. The role of the Government and the impact of existing and future stimulus packages will also be key to overcoming the enormous challenges that lie ahead, of that there can be little doubt.
The key findings of the IoD Director Sentiment Monitor for Q2 2020 include:
Threat of a Second Wave of COVID-19
- When asked, ‘At present, what do you believe is the single biggest risk facing your organisation?’, respondents chose the following main factors:
- The largest percentage, 34%, selected ‘A Second Wave of the COVID-19 coronavirus’
- Political/economic uncertainty’ was chosen by 20%
- ‘Low consumer confidence’ was chosen by 9%
- ‘Access to capital funding’ was selected by 8%
- ‘Effects of Brexit’ was chosen by 7%.
- However, when asked, ‘In respect of your primary organisation, would your business survive a Second Wave of COVID-19 and another partial or full lockdown?’, 73% of business leaders said ‘Yes’, just 5% said ‘No’ and 20% said they were ‘Not sure’.
Return to Office/Workplace
- When asked, ‘In respect of your primary organisation, which is the biggest barrier that you anticipate for your workforce returning to the office/workplace?, the business leaders chose their main factors as:
- Reluctance of some staff to return to the workplace due to the threat posed by COVID-19’ (24%)
- Public transport and lack of alternative travel options’ (22%)
- ‘Lack of space for social distancing, based on 2 metres’ (21%)
- 'Lack of space for social distancing, even if reduced to 1 metre’ (11%)
- ‘Pre-existing health conditions/health vulnerabilities of staff’ (6%)
- When asked, ‘In respect of your primary organisation, and from the list below, what do you think is the primary legacy to date of COVID-19?’, the IoD survey respondents selected the following main factors:
- Change to working practices, such as working from home (60%)
- Our business will need to reduce staff (10%)
- Change in consumer behaviour (9%)
- Our business will need to diversify and change focus (8%)
- Increased focus on sustainability (6%)
- Increased focus on work-life balance (5%)
- When asked, ‘In respect of Irish business, in general, what do you think is the primary legacy of COVID-19?, the IoD survey respondents selected the following main factors:
- Some businesses will not survive (36%)
- Change to working practices, such as working from home (27%)
- Businesses will need to diversify and change focus (15%)
- Change in consumer behaviour (7%).
- Businesses will need to reduce staff (6%)
- Increased focus on work-life balance (4%)
- Increased focus on sustainability (3%)
The findings in this survey have been rounded up or down to the nearest decimal point. For all of the above findings, respondents were given the option to choose one answer only. They could not choose multiple answers.