More than 50% of CEOs say they plan to cut jobs in the next 6 months – and remote workers could be the first to address

By Andrew Keshner

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

The C-Suite’s warning sirens about an impending recession are gaining volume in America and elsewhere, but the office reminders for a full-time job are much softer.

According to a report published Tuesday by KPMG on the outlook for CEOs, most CEOs around the world believe that a recession is on the horizon and is coming sooner rather than later.

Nine in ten CEOs in the United States (91%) believe a recession will arrive within the next 12 months, while 86% of CEOs worldwide believe the same, according to findings from the international audit firm, tax and advice.

This echoes the ominous predictions of top Wall Street investors like Stanley Druckenmiller

In the US, half of CEOs (51%) say they are considering workforce reductions in the next six months – and across the global survey, eight in ten CEOs say the same.

A word of caution for people who enjoy working from home: remote workers may find it in their best interest to show up in the office as their job security becomes more insecure.

It is “likely” and/or “extremely likely” that remote workers will be laid off first, according to a majority (60%) of 3,000 managers surveyed by, a provider of presentation software. Another 20% were undecided, and the remaining 20% ​​said it was not likely.

When asked how they foresee their company’s working arrangements three years from now for traditionally office-based jobs, nearly half of U.S. CEOs (45%) said it would be a mix hybrid of in-person and remote work. A third (34%) said jobs would still be in the office and 20% said they were fully remote.

CEOs around the world seemed more inclined to work in person. Two-thirds (65%) said working in the office was ideal, while 28% said hybrid would be the solution and 7% said it would be entirely remote. The global findings come from US business leaders, but also from CEOs from Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, and some countries in the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Workers feel emboldened

“It’s hard to know why the global numbers are so different from the U.S. numbers, and they’re very different,” Paul Knopp, president and CEO of KPMG US, told MarketWatch. “In the United States, we certainly have a hybrid environment as the predominant model for the future.”

The tight labor market is one of the reasons for the hybrid work dynamic, Knopp noted. But so are the fresh memories of the past few years, underscoring how much companies need their employees, he said.

The slew of initial layoffs to deal with the short, sharp recession during the early stages of COVID-19 quickly turned into recruitment attempts. Many workers have weighed their career choices – and seen the job market suddenly swing in their favor. “Employers in the United States recognize that people are their greatest asset,” Knopp said, adding, “so employees are given a bit more agency about where they will work in the future.”

Other research suggests that there is no torrent of full-time workers returning to the office. Through the end of September, average office occupancy in 10 major cities remained below 50%, according to security technology provider Kastle Systems. Scan data has shown an increase in recent weeks to around 47%, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays typically being the busiest office days.

Microsoft (MSFT) researchers recently warned of “productivity paranoia” among managers about their hybrid workforce. Many bosses seem skeptical of their staff’s productivity, even as hybrid workers schedule meetings, listen to emails, and correspond with colleagues at a frantic pace.

Other labor market data released on Tuesday suggested a cooling in the labor market. There were about a million fewer job openings in August compared to July, according to Labor Department data. Job postings 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 in general are going to be careful about the depth of their cuts,” he said.

-Andrew Keshner


(END) Dow Jones Newswire

10-04-22 1559ET

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

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