Nearly 70% of CEOs expect to downsize offices: KPMG

Corporate executives see benefit of work-from-home

Mark Zukerberg and Jeff Blau (Getty, iStock)
Mark Zukerberg and Jeff Blau (Getty, iStock)

The pandemic has drastically changed the way CEOs around the globe see the future of work. More than two-thirds said they may reduce their office footprint in the coming years, according to a recent survey.

Out of 315 CEOs answering the survey published in KPMG’s “2020 CEO Outlook: Covid-19 Special Edition,” 69 percent checked the “We will be downsizing office space” box.

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The rapid shift to working from home might have been rocky at the outset of the pandemic, but after months of overseeing their remote workforce, 77 percent of CEOs said they will increase their use of digital collaboration and communication tools, according to the survey conducted in July and early August.

Remote working has widened their available talent pool, said 73 percent of CEOs in the survey.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that benefit in May after expanding the company’s work-from-home policy.

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“The biggest advantages I think are access to large pools of talent who don’t live around the big cities and aren’t willing to move there,” Zuckerberg told Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “And there are a lot of people in the U.S. and in Canada and ultimately around the world that I think we, and other companies that go in this direction, will be able to access.”

Work-from-home may also appeal to CEOs who have faced the same health and family challenges as their employees during the pandemic. Some 39 percent said their health, or the health of their family, had been affected by the coronavirus. As a result, 55 percent changed their corporate strategies for dealing with the pandemic, according to the survey.

The CEOs’ sentiment does not bode well for office landlords who have been waiting for the return of their tenants. Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Companies, told Bloomberg that he has been trying to persuade firms to bring people back into the office.

“I’ve been using a little bit of guilt trip and a little bit of coaxing,” Blau told Bloomberg.

KPMG did not release the names of companies whose CEOs responded to the survey, but the firm said these companies have annual revenue of more than $500 million in the sectors of asset management, automotive, banking, consumer and retail, energy, infrastructure, insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications.

Those companies are based in Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., according to KPMG, which did not respond to requests to elaborate on the survey.

Contact Akiko Matsuda at

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