Firms remain bullish with 70% to 80% expecting expansion and no firm expecting contraction over the next year in activity levels, headcount and new work flow. As regards topics carrying weight during partner/director discussions, finance and cash flow head the list, followed by people, with marketing in third place. Operational efficiency remains the top priority. As regards constraints, employee turnover and skills gaps are now top of the list, with the financial health of clients and the economic climate falling back. Few firms are now looking to reduce their office space post Covid.
41% view the impact of lockdown on their firm as positive with 41% viewing it as negative. Those who are apprehensive over returning to the office still exceed those who are relaxed, but many more are neutral than in April. Happiness levels have reduced and more people have had mental health issues during lockdown. Conflict levels are about the same. Less than 5% of people are currently self-isolating. Physical changes to offices are mostly modest. Working hours when people are in the office will be more flexible. Over 70% are expecting further lockdowns...
Some Boards seek to be kept informed; others discuss cyber risks at every meeting. Rewards for preventing an attack and sanctions for facilitating an attack are very uncommon, suggesting that cyber security is still seen as a technical issue rather than one that involves everyone. Some threats (phishing, malware, passwords and compromised software) are being actively managed, but eavesdropping is not on the radar. Lack of expertise, poor communications and cultural resistance are the most common risk indicators. Ransomware attack recovery plans need a lot of work!
The poll explored the extent that firms are using new technologies for different management practices: the area with the highest usage is financial management, followed by services delivered to clients, then marketing and new business generation, then influencing innovation, then knowledge management, then people management and finally strategy development. There were significant variances, with new technologies not on the radar at some firms and technologies in place at others. The poll also covered advocacy for and actions to enhance employee engagement.