This crisis forced businesses to work differently. Change happened at speed, faster and flatter structures emerged, and this served as a reminder that people create organisational change.

Survey respondents emphasise culture, suggesting they view these changes positively. Companies are seeking to become more agile, both to build resilience and equip themselves for a future characterised by change.

Only 1 in 5 businesses feel their infrastructure and culture are sufficiently agile. Yet its importance is clear – more agile firms felt better prepared for this crisis. Cultural factors stand out alongside the importance of purpose for the best prepared companies.

Firms further recognise that these good cultural practices can build employee loyalty over the long-term.

More than a quarter of companies said that building a culture to support retention and recruitment was key to preparing for future uncertainty.

Treating employees well is one of the top characteristics of a resilient business.

Agile businesses put more weight on certain characteristics of resilience

Stays aligned to core purpose
Supports a culture of innovation
Has an inclusive culture
Total companies
Companies agile enough to be stable
% difference

Firms are adopting new ways of working to create cultural change and promote agility.

The data suggest the world of work will be permanently changed. This follows media reports of companies announcing employees may permanently work remotely, should they wish to.

The crisis left offices empty as employees worked remotely, often for the first time. Staff developed new skills, from video conferencing to managing teams remotely. And workarounds were found so customers could continue to be served.

Remote working has risen in developed markets over a decade from roughly 10% of workers to over 20%**. The survey suggests another step change is underway.

As part of this cultural change, workplaces may be reimagined from meetings to travel and office space. Technological investment will support this shift, with 57% of businesses anticipating more virtual internal and external meetings over the next two years and 34% foreseeing a reduction in air travel.


of companies expect that technology will enable more flexible working arrangements

How technology will change working practices

3 in 5 firms (61%) see tools which enable virtual meetings and collaboration becoming standard business practice.

Remote working promises to promote inclusivity. In time it may remove the need to relocate for work, which would widen talent pools and ease skill shortages. Yet it is not currently equally available to all employees, with the ability and opportunity to work remotely far greater among higher income groups.

Sixty-two per cent of employed Americans currently say they have worked from home during the crisis, a number that has doubled since mid-March*.

*Gallup poll, April 2020 Discovering Affinity for Remote Work, 3 April.

**HSBC Global Research