KPMG Report: Bosses predict return to office by 2026

Thursday, October 5, 2023

More than half of business leaders have predicted that workers will return to offices for five days a week within the next three years. 

KPMG’s annual outlook survey found that 64% of the 1,300 global chief executives believe there will be a full return to in-office working by the end of 2026.

The results showed that nearly 90% of those polled by KPMG thought that pay, bonuses and promotions would be linked with coming into the office more regularly.

The findings of the KPMG report showed that two-thirds of global CEOs (66%) maintained that progress on inclusion and diversity had moved too slowly in the business world and a strong majority (72%) said that achieving diversity in workplaces required implementing a change across the senior leadership level.

According to the survey, geopolitics, political uncertainty and supply chain risks, not hybrid working, were the main concerns for senior executives worldwide, while in the UK the top three were geopolitics, climate change and disruptive technology.

The biggest issue for leaders in last year’s survey was the possibility of more pandemic restrictions.

Three-quarters of chief executives told researchers that cost-of-living pressures were likely to negatively affect their business performance over the coming three years. Chief executives in the UK were particularly worried about the impact of the cost-of-living crunch.

The survey also revealed that chief executives were investing heavily in generative artificial intelligence, with seven in 10 respondents saying that this technology remained a high priority. Just over half expected a return on their investment within five years. Concerns about the ethical challenges involved with AI were still rife.

Business leaders said they considered environmental, social and governance targets an integral part of companies’ strategies. Those surveyed expected the targets to have the greatest impact on their customer relationships, brand reputation and acquisition strategies.

Jon Holt, chief executive of KPMG UKtold The Times: “We know that what chief executives really want is certainty to support long-term business planning. And to stay ahead and build a stable business for the future, most are chasing that competitive edge for their firms and their clients, including better digitisation.”