A Gartner, Inc. survey of 317 CFOs and Finance leaders on March 30, 2020* revealed that 74 percent intend to move at least five percent of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19.

“This data is an example of the lasting impact the current coronavirus crisis will have on the way companies do business,” said Alexander Bant, practice vice president, research for the Gartner Finance Practice. “CFOs, already under pressure to tightly manage costs, clearly sense an opportunity to realize the cost benefits of a remote workforce. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20 percent of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.”

Figure 1: 74% of Companies Plan to Permanently Shift to More Remote Work Post COVID}

Image courtesy of Gartner (April, 2020)

With 81 percent of CFOs previously telling Gartner that they planned to exceed their contractual obligations to hourly workers, remote work is one example of creative cost savings senior finance leaders are seeking in order to avoid more severe cuts and minimize the downside impact to operations. CFOs previously reported to Gartner that they were taking additional steps to support employees in this area by adjusting to more flexible work schedules and providing company-issued work from home equipment. These action by finance leaders help minimize disruptions workers might be facing as a result of the crisis, adds Gartner. 

“Most CFOs recognize that technology and society have evolved to make remote work more viable for a wider variety of positions than ever before,” said Mr. Bant. “Within the finance function itself, 90% of CFOs previously reported to us that they expect minimal disruptions to their accounting close process, with almost all activities able to be executed off-site.”

As organizations continue to grapple with the ongoing business disruptions from COVID-19, permanent remote work could complement cost-cutting measures that CFOs have already taken or plan to take, says Gartner. In Gartner’s most recent survey, 20 percent of respondents indicated they have deferred on-premise technology spend, with an additional 12 percent planning to do so. An additional 13 percent of respondents noted they had already made cost reductions in real estate expenses, with another 9 percent planning to take actions in this area in the coming months.