COVID-19 impact survey reveals business concerns

From office overhauls to enable social distancing to a serious income hit, a pulse check of Australia’s senior executives and managers has highlighted the continuing and far-reaching impact of COVID-19.

More than two in five (44%) expect their personal income to be affected as a result of COVID-19, the survey of 265 Governance Institute of Australia members found.

And among those who expect their personal income to be affected, 31% have already seen a drop in their hours or income — and nine per cent have either had their business close or lost their job.

But while there is great concern for the broader economy, less are as worried for their own profession, the survey by independent research agency Survey Matters shows.

While 86% of members said COVID-19 is a high or very high threat to the Australian economy, only 40% believe it poses the same threat to their profession.

Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto said the survey shows there is still a great deal of uncertainty, mixed with some important glimpses of positivity for the future.

“We are currently in unchartered territory and governance and risk managers have a huge role to play in navigating this,” Ms Motto.

“This survey provides important insights into the key concerns for the profession and corporate Australia more widely.”

Greatest immediate impacts of COVID-19

Managing staff while working from home was identified by 59% as the greatest immediate impact of COVID-19.

Half of respondents noted they are also struggling to manage their own work from home arrangements, and 52% said their ability to provide services in the usual manner has been impacted.

Just under half of respondents were concerned about keeping themselves and staff safe and protected at work.

Office overhauls as Australia returns to work

Almost half (47%) of the workplace layouts of respondents have been re-organised in order to meet official social distancing requirements, the survey found. A further 37% are currently considering or working on implementing an overhaul.

And shared desks or office equipment have been banned by more than half.

Flexible work mindset

The survey found that half of employers have already implemented flexible working conditions to enable people to work from home if they wish to continue doing so and 41% have now introduced a staggered return to the office. A further 52% are currently considering or working on implementing their staggered returns.

Ms Motto said the pandemic has served to speed up the move to flexible work that had been slowly evolving in recent years, but it is important not to unwind this new level of flexibility with the return to the office.

“There is a high level of excitement and positivity emerging around the return to the business office, but in that excitement we need to hold on to the massive steps that have been undertaken in terms of workplace flexibility,” Ms Motto said.

“We need to manage according to outcomes — not according to the hours that someone is sitting at their desk in the CBD. It is important that we refresh our way of thinking about the working world —on a permanent basis.”

The survey also gauged member feedback regarding ways that the Governance Institute can best support them during this time.

We are pleased to have been able to support our members with a suite of expert webinars, a guidance regarding holding AGMs, news stories, relief for outstanding membership renewals, and by moving existing events and courses to a digital format.

Read the survey report

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