- Companies are planning for employees to work remotely through next year due to the threat of Covid-19, according to ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott.
- He cited the difficulties of rolling out a coronavirus vaccine across a global population.
- "This is the new reality we're living with, and distributed workforces are a thing of not only the present but also the future," he told CNBC.
McDermott, whose company provides cloud-based software that automates IT and employee workflow, was responding to a question about his conversations with fellow chief executives as they seek to navigate a world upended by Covid-19.
There will undoubtedly be a long-term shift with a larger percentage of employees who can work remotely doing so, McDermott said on "Squawk on the Street." He predicated a "hybrid world," where employees routinely split time between working in the office and at home.
But more near term, he said, "the other thing I'm hearing is people are already preparing for working from home or working from anywhere through 2021, because even if you do get a vaccine, it's obviously not going to get through the global population for somewhere upwards of a year, probably a year and a half from now."
Companies in March began to shift their office employees to remote work when the threat of the coronavirus intensified. For many firms, the date of return has continued to be extended as the pandemic and development on a safe, widely available vaccine persists.
Tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet have set return dates of no sooner than July or August of next year. Other firms, such as a few on Wall Street, have called portions of their employees back to the office, sometimes using a rotational approach to limit capacity.
While some have touted the flexibility of remote work, there are those who highlight the benefits of employees in the office. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told MSNBC in August there may be some permanency in remote work for some of the bank's staff. But, he said, "there's a huge value to working together, in terms of collaboration and creativity and training younger people."
No matter the approach firms are taking now, McDermott said he believes the long-term result will be an office landscape dramatically different from the one employees left in March. "We're never going back to the way the world once was," said the former longtime CEO of SAP. "This is the new reality we're living with, and distributed workforces are a thing of not only the present but also the future."
Shares of ServiceNow were higher by about 3% Thursday to nearly $500 apiece. The company reported third-quarter earnings Wednesday, posting year-over-year revenue growth of 30%. It also raised its full-year guidance.