The pandemic has resulted in financial difficulties for many in the US. Over the past six months, with the economy and many industries in turmoil, there have inevitably been struggles at numerous levels.
Business leaders have also started to feel less pessimistic, as almost a third (31%) of businesses have begun operating as usual.
Whilst any economic recovery will take many months and years, the good news is that there are signs for positivity.
As per the latest “advance” estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 33.1 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the sharp dip of 31.4% in the second quarter.
Confidence amongst business leaders
Business leaders have also started to feel less pessimistic, as almost a third (31%) of businesses have begun operating as usual. This number has improved compared to June (28%). The number of those who believe that COVID-19 will hurt their company’s sales performance has dropped since the June wave, from 40% then to 36% now. A lesser number of businesses have reported a dip in revenue leads (38% compared to 46% in June) and a drop in the number of projects (38% compared to 46% in June). On top of that, the rate of the negative impact of Covid on business revenues, staff count, and employee morale has remained stable since June – showing that businesses remain resilient.
As time passes, fewer businesses have reduced employee salaries/ leadership salary cuts, layoffs/ furloughs, or reduced workdays (69% compared to 78% in June).
Changing working environments
Many business decision-makers are reviewing their future needs for office space. Businesses are seeking to embrace new ways of working, by retaining flexible and remote working options. Four out of ten business decision-makers believe that increased reliance on remote working will be the most significant technological change in the U.S. corporate sector. 93% of businesses covered in the survey have already adopted remote working in some form.
Almost seven in ten (69%) businesses expect a shift towards home working within their own companies once the pandemic is over, whether full-time or on a part-time basis. Remote working culture is likely to stay for another 4.5 months after the pandemic (up from 3 months reported in June).
The importance of technology
Our recent data shows that staying at the forefront of the technological landscape and keeping digitally savvy is crucial to U.S. companies. Almost three-quarters of business decision-makers are considering accelerating their digital transformations to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
Businesses are preparing for some significant technological changes in the U.S. corporate sector, with almost one in five saying that they expect more investment in the building of virtual platforms because of the pandemic.
More than two-thirds (69%) business decision-makers expect their company to align workforce planning with business strategy to prepare for evolving needs, whereas 65% say that their company will understand its customer’s pulse to reduce the risks.
Designing health & safety plans to protect employees from Covid-19 continues to be in the top three priorities for businesses. Business decision-makers are also looking towards realigning their business targets and developing sustainability plans to mitigate the risks posed by Covid-19.
The worry is not yet over, with two-thirds (67%) of US businesses expecting the Covid pandemic to affect their business for six months or more. Over half of the companies (55%) also expect that it will take six months or more to get back to business as usual.
The next few months will clearly be very tough. The impact of Covid-19 will remain top of mind and isn’t going away quicky, but businesses and the economy will continue to fight during these challenging times.
Savanta’s US business tracker measures the business impact of COVID-19 among decision makers within organizations of all sizes and industries. It tracks the perceptions on the economy overall as well as organization specific impacts including sales, employee outlook, productivity, and performance.
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