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ZHAW Managers Survey - COVID-19

ZHAW Managers Survey - COVID-19: Swiss companies in the Corona crisis

The COVID-19 crisis not only represents great challenges to our healthcare system, but also puts many companies and organizations to a hard test. The uncertainty is great in many places and for many companies it is a matter of survival. Dr. Florian Keller and Dr. Benedikt Zoller-Rydzek have launched the first ZHAW Manager Barometer study together with Michael Farley and Christian Graf. The ZHAW Managers Barometer is an irregularly recurring survey focusing on business topics, primarily for IEMBA, MBA and MAS BA Alumni at the ZHAW School of Management.

In the first survey from April 7 to 13 2020, we wanted to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Swiss companies and thus contribute to a better understanding of the crisis. With over 200 managers from Swiss companies taking part, the response was very positive. We would like to thank all participants for their valuable inputs.

Global Managers Survey

We are pleased that this study has met with great interest internationally and been accepted by various partner universities. In close cooperation with the International Management Institute, these universities are conducting the same study in their respective countries.

The following universities have already carried out the study:

The following universities are currently running the survey:

The following universities are about to launch the study:

The Key Findings of the ZHAW Managers Survey in Switzerland

The Recession Curve

While the business situation for almost all companies in our survey was good before the COVID-19 crisis, the business climate has now cooled down noticeably. However, the bottom of the crisis has not yet been reached, and this is not expected until mid-July 2020. Thereafter, the economic situation of the companies should slowly recover by the end of the year. In general, it is expected that most companies will manage the crisis rather well, but it is nevertheless expected that at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis more than 12% of the companies will be fighting for their survival.

One main reason for this is the sharp drop in demand, especially from abroad. Until the world market recovers, the crisis will not be over for Switzerland as a leading export nation.

The New Normal

The Swiss Federal Council's current strategy is to "freeze" the economy. This seems to be quite successful, with few Swiss companies responding to the crisis by fundamentally changing their business model or the range of goods and services they offer. However, our study shows that there is a major push towards digitalization. More than 80% of companies responded to the crisis by offering home office to their employees and more than 20% of Swiss companies are increasingly focusing on digitization issues (digital production, marketing, e-commerce, etc.).

This trend will continue after the crisis, but it will face a slight reversion towards previous levels. Although in the digital marketing and home office availability, we expect long-lasting effects. The share of digital marketing after the crisis will be almost 10% higher than before the crisis. The effect will be even stronger with regard to home office. While before the crisis more than 80% of the companies stated that they were doing less than 20% of their work from their home office, this group has declined to less than 20% at present. This extreme situation will experience a significant correction after the end of the lockdown, but the share of companies with less than 20% home office only drops below 50%. Thus, in the future more and more employees are likely to work from home.

A detailed overview of the study results can be found here:  ZHAW Managers Survey COVID-19 (PDF 875,9 KB) (German only).

If you would like to take part in future ZHAW Manager surveys you can register for these by registering here with your email:

Your participation does not only support research, but as well has an impact on economic policies, as we are working Expert Group of the Economics of the COVID-19 Tasksforce of the Swiss Federal government.