Over 50% of CEOs say they’re considering cutting jobs over the next 6 months — and remote workers may be the first go to

By Andrew Keshner

Microsoft researchers recently warned of “productivity paranoia” among managers regarding their hybrid workforce

C-suite alarm sirens about an impending recession are getting louder in America and elsewhere, but calls back to the office for full-time work are much quieter.

Most CEOs around the world shared the view that a recession is on the horizon and coming sooner rather than later, according to a Tuesday report by KPMG on the outlook for corporate leaders.

Nine in 10 US CEOs (91%) believe a recession will hit in the next 12 months, while 86% of CEOs around the world think the same way, according to the international accounting, tax and advisory firm.

That reflects the gloomy predictions of big-name Wall Street investors like Stanley Druckenmiller

In the Americas, half of CEOs (51%) say they are considering downsizing in the next six months – and in the global survey overall, eight in 10 CEOs say the same.

One caveat for people who enjoy working from home: remote workers may find it in their best interest to show their face in the office as their job security becomes more insecure.

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Remote workers are “likely” and/or “very likely” to be laid off first, according to a majority (60%) of 3,000 managers surveyed by beautiful.ai, a presentation software provider. Another 20% were undecided and the remaining 20% ​​thought it unlikely.

When asked how they envision their company’s working arrangements three years from now for jobs traditionally held in an office, nearly half of US CEOs (45%) said it would be a hybrid mix of in-person and remote work . A third (34%) said jobs would continue to be in the office, and 20% said it would be completely remote.

CEOs around the world seemed more interested in personal work. Two-thirds (65%) said office work was ideal, while 28% thought hybrid would be the way to go, and 7% said it would be completely remote. The global results come from US corporate leaders, but also from CEOs in Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan and certain European Union countries and the United Kingdom.

Workers feel encouraged

“It’s hard to say why the global numbers are so different from the US, and they are very different,” Paul Knopp, KPMG US Chair and CEO, told MarketWatch. “In the US, we certainly have a hybrid environment as our dominant model going forward.”

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The tight labor market is one reason for the hybrid work dynamic, according to Knopp. But even the fresh memories of recent years show how much companies need their employees, he said.

The many initial layoffs to cope with the short, sharp recession in the early days of COVID-19 soon turned into attempts to increase staffing levels. Many workers weighed up their career choice – and saw how the job market suddenly tilted in their favor. “Employers in the United States do see people as their greatest asset,” Knopp said, adding, “So workers are getting a little bit more choice about where they’re going to work going forward.”

Other research suggests there is no full-time flow of workers back to the office. By the end of September, average office occupancy remained below 50% in 10 major cities, according to security technology provider Kastle Systems. Swipe data showed an increase to about 47% over the past few weeks, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays typically being the busiest office days.

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Microsoft (MSFT) researchers recently warned of “productivity paranoia” among managers regarding their hybrid workforce. Many bosses seem skeptical about their employees’ productivity, even when hybrid employees are scheduling meetings, typing emails, and corresponding with co-workers at a breakneck pace.

Other jobs data released on Tuesday pointed to a cooling job market. According to data from the Labor Department, there were around a million fewer job vacancies in August compared to July. Vacancies also fell below 11 million for the first time last November.

Fine-tuning the nature of work after the worst days of the pandemic is an ongoing process, Knopp said. Another question for management will be where to cut jobs in the face of a recession, Knopp added. “Business leaders will generally be cautious about how deep they cut,” he said.

-Andrew Keshner


(ENDS) Dow Jones Newswires

10-04-22 1559ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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