CFOs tipped to capitalise on the cost benefits of a remote workforce post-pandemic

Chief financial officers like the idea of keeping a portion of the staff as a remote workforce after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided, according to new research from Gartner.

A Gartner survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders on March 30, 2020 revealed that 74 per cent intend to move at least 5 per cent of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19.

“This data is an example of the lasting impact the current coronavirus crisis will have on the way companies do business,” said Alexander Bant, practice VP, research for the Gartner finance practice.

“CFOs, already under pressure to tightly manage costs, clearly sense an opportunity to realise the cost benefits of a remote workforce. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20 per cent of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.”

Figure 1: 74 Per Cent of Companies Plan to Permanently Shift to More Remote Work Post COVID}
Source: Gartner (April, 2020)

With 81 per cent of CFOs previously telling Gartner that they planned to exceed their contractual obligations to hourly workers, remote work is one example of creative cost savings senior finance leaders are seeking in order to avoid more severe cuts and minimise the downside impact to operations.

CFOs previously reported to Gartner that they were taking additional steps to support employees in this area by adjusting to more flexible work schedules and providing company-issued work from home equipment. These actions by finance leaders help minimize disruptions workers might be facing as a result of the crisis.

“Most CFOs recognise that technology and society have evolved to make remote work more viable for a wider variety of positions than ever before,” Bant said.

“Within the finance function itself, 90 per cent of CFOs previously reported to us that they expect minimal disruptions to their accounting close process, with almost all activities able to be executed off-site.”

As organisations continue to grapple with the ongoing business disruptions from COVID-19, permanent remote work could complement cost-cutting measures that CFOs have already taken or plan to take.

In Gartner’s most recent survey, 20 per cent of respondents indicated they have deferred on-premise technology spend, with an additional 12 per cent planning to do so.

An additional 13 per cent of respondents noted they had already made cost reductions in real estate expenses, with another 9 per cent planning to take actions in this area in the coming months.

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