A recent HLB International global survey of business leaders has shown confidence is strong despite the challenges presented over the past 12 months.

The Business Leaders – Achieving the Post-Pandemic Vision: Leaner, Greener and Keener survey is designed to act as a barometer of business confidence, and highlights some of the opportunities and risks that lay ahead as global jurisdictions emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic.

HLB surveyed 583 clients and other business leaders in C-suite positions across five continents. Australian based clients of HLB Mann Judd were invited to participate in the survey, with a total of 41 submitting responses.

While 81 per cent of leaders surveyed are worried about the implications of the pandemic and nearly 54 per cent expect the rate of global growth to decline this year, others recognise that the disruption could create opportunity.

Forty two per cent of leaders plan to bring new products or services to the market over the coming year, and 76 per cent are confident in their own ability to grow revenue over the same timeframe.

Many leaders also cited the role of technology as being key to business viability during the shutdown period of the pandemic. Investments in new digital technologies and capabilities, previously positioned further down as a strategic priority, have become a necessity to maintain operations, with 35 per cent of respondents identifying this as an area of weakness to be addressed over the next 12 months. Further to this, nearly 50 per cent of leaders ranked ‘cloud computing’ as the most important technology for enabling future success.

Digital platforms have saved many businesses through the pandemic, however they have also introduced challenges. Eighty four per cent of those surveyed agreed it’s been difficult to foster the ‘human touch’ in these times of social distancing and remote working.

The ability to collaborate (with colleagues and clients) is most missed, selected by over half of business leaders and over a third of respondents (37 per cent) also acknowledge the difficulties of cultivating creativity via digital means.

*The author is a member of the HLB International Global Planning Committee which managed the design and implementation of the report.