PwC's UK staff to split office and homeworking after Covid crisis

PwC is rolling out a flexible working policy that will allow its 22,000 UK staff to split their time about half and half between their home and office after the pandemic.

The accounting firm expects staff to spend 40-60% of their time with colleagues – either in the office or out on client visits – once restrictions are lifted, with the freedom to work remotely the rest of the week.

Staff can also personalise the structure of their working day, by starting or ending earlier, 例如. At the peak of summer, in July and August, employees will also be allowed to condense their working week so that they can clock off at lunchtime on Fridays.

PwC is the latest City firm to bring in permanent changes to allow remote and flexible working, which PwC said would also help to reduce its carbon footprint.

“These changes are in direct response to soundings from our people, who’ve said they value a mix of working from home and in the office,” the company’s UK chairman, Kevin Ellis, 说.

According to a survey by Boston Consulting Group, 53% of workers have said they would prefer a hybrid model in future. A separate poll by the recruiter Robert Half showed that 89% of firms expected some form of hybrid working to become permanent after the Covid pandemic.

But some large employers are standing their ground. The Goldman Sachs chief executive, David Solomon, made headlines in February after he said homeworking was an “aberration” and not a “new normal” for the bank.

Others, such as Schroders, the FTSE 100-listed fund manager, have told staff they will not be required to return to the office full-time, even after the health emergency had passed. Some banks including HSBC, Lloyds and Metro Bank are closing down offices after the success of homeworking during the Covid outbreak.

Ellis said PwC was announcing the changes now, to ensure that staff did not fall back into old patterns after physical-distancing rules were eased and workers were allowed to return to the office.

“We want to help enshrine new working patterns so they outlast the pandemic. Without conscious planning now, there’s a risk that we lose the best bits of these new ways of working when the economy opens up again,” Ellis said.

“The future of work is changing at such a pace that we have to evolve continually how we do things to meet the needs of our people and our clients.”

In further efforts to leave pre-pandemic habits behind, PwC is spending £75m to redesign offices with cafe-style meeting areas to encourage collaboration when staff are in the building. It is also equipping workers with new technology such as VR headsets to “level the playing field” for staff working remotely.

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