New York, NY, 6 October 2020 – Nearly half of chief executives in 100 countries reported having a significantly more negative business outlook than on 1 March 2020, according to a new survey by YPO, the global leadership community of more than 30,000 chief executives.
While 49 percent have a negative outlook, more than one-third (37%) of respondents said their business outlook is slightly or significantly more positive in this new survey, YPO Global Pulse: The New CEO Frontier: Leading in the Post-COVID World. Both sentiments represent a notable improvement over YPO Survey data from the previous six months.
Conducted 21-24 September with 2,572 chief executives responding, the all-member survey offers insights into business leaders’ current economic outlook, predictions on their businesses outcomes a year out, and their perspectives on the permanent impact the pandemic will have on the workplace. YPO members lead businesses and organizations contributing to USD9 trillion in annual revenue.
Key additional findings include
- Economic outlook perspectives vary significantly by region. Leaders in Europe (59%) Latin America (56%) and South Asia* (51%) say their overall business outlook has become significantly more negative since 1 March. Business leaders in Australia/New Zealand (44%) and the United States (40%) have the most positive overall business outlook compared to 1 March.
- Leaders are most optimistic about revenue growth in the next 12 months, but respondents were split with 39% anticipating a 10% or more increase in revenue while 35% anticipate a 10% or more decrease. In Australia/New Zealand, half of those surveyed predict a 10% increase or more in revenue one year from now. Almost half (47%) of leaders in Asia** anticipate a 10% decrease or more in revenue one year from now.
- Workforce outlooks are less variable. Most (45%) of those surveyed expected their total number of employees to be the same one year from now, while 30% foresee their total number of employees to be down by 10% or more. Twenty-five percent of chief executives in Africa and Canada expect headcount to increase 10% or more by one year from now.
- Many (40%) leaders expect their total fixed investments to remain the same in the next 12 months with the rest evenly split between a more than 10% increase (30%) and a more than 10% decrease (30%). Leaders in Latin America (39%), Europe (38%) and MENA (38%) were the most likely to say they expect a 10% or more decrease.
- Flexible work arrangements for employees are here to stay. Over three-quarters (78%) of chief executives report that they will continue to offer them in a post-COVID world. Respondents in Canada (36%) and the United States (31%) were the most likely to say that they will offer a full-time remote work option going forward.
- Chief executives also believe that business adjustments they made to digital/technology investments (51%), leaner operations including workforce reductions (46%) and increased agility (43%) as a result of the pandemic will have the biggest long-term benefits with business pivots (22%) and diminished office leases (20%) seen as beneficial but less impactful.
- Business travel is still uncertain. While most (47%) business leaders shared that they would be comfortable now travelling to a local in-person event, comfort around global travel is a highly mixed with 12% saying they are ready now, 33% saying they would be ready in the first half of next year, 29% in the second, and 27% citing that they are unsure as to when they will be ready.
YPO Global Pulse Methodology
The YPO Global Pulse: The New CEO Frontier: Leading in the Post-COVID World was conducted by YPO from 21-24 September 2020 via an online questionnaire. A total of 2,572 YPO members responded to the survey. The members in this sample are representative of the larger YPO population and come from 100 different countries. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.84 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
*South Asia includes India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
**Asia includes Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
YPO is the global leadership community of more than 30,000 chief executives in 142 countries who are connected by the shared belief that the world needs better leaders. Each of our members have achieved significant leadership success at a young age. Combined, they lead businesses and organizations contributing USD9 trillion in annual revenue. YPO members inspire and support each other through peer learning and exceptional experiences in an inclusive community of open sharing and trust. Visit for more.
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