PwC encourages staff back into the office but finance teams across the UK do not want to return
On Monday, Kevin Ellis, chair of accountancy firm PwC – which has more than 22,000 staff across the UK – said he hopes to have around half of the company’s employees back at work by next month, according to the Sunday Times. Ellis said the age of presenteeism – the fear of leaving your work desk – has been annihilated by the pandemic as employees work from home.
This comes as last week, Barclays boss Jes Staley signalled that he wants employees working from home during the pandemic to return to the office ‘over time’. He told Bloomberg TV: “it is important to get people back together in physical concentrations.” City-based firms appear to not be sending the majority of their staff back into the office. Earlier this month, just 800 of Goldman Sachs’s 6,000 London staff have returned, while fewer than 2,000 of the 12,000 at JP Morgan are back.
Theta Financial Reporting, a consulting and accounting firm that promotes flexible working for highly qualified accountants, has released new research into the financial services and in-house finance teams and their return to work. It reveals that:
- 26% of Brits say their company’s finance teams will not be returning to the office with other employees in August and will now work at home for the majority of the time
- 24% of Brits say their employer hasn’t explored any flexible working options to help them or their colleagues return to work
- 70% of City-based workers do not feel comfortable commuting to work via public transport anymore and think it will be one of the most stressful parts of their day
- Over a third – 35% – of Brits say going back to work in a traditional office environment will have a negative impact on their mental health, which in turn will negatively affect their productivity
- Nearly a fifth – 17% – of UK workers say their business will no longer be in a permanent office when they return to full-time work
This research shows Brits and their finance teams are not returning to work despite calls from the prime minister and business leaders to return to normality. With a quarter of Brits not being offered flexible working options to keep them safe and a third of workers saying returning to the office will impact their mental health, this period is pivotal to the survival and growth of the UK economy. Chris Biggs, managing director and founder of Theta Financial Reporting, commented:
“This research demonstrates the clear desire for people both in the Capital and finance teams not to return to their pre-Covid working environments, regardless of the calls from business leaders. Accountancy teams across the country have been getting on with their work in testing times through year-end and have demonstrated how well the vast majority of professionals can perform away from the office.
Many businesses have adapted to working away from the office and with so many people caring for vulnerable relatives, friends and children, it seems people do not want to return this month, despite the easing of lockdown restrictions. This will have a significant impact on how our workplaces will look beyond lockdown.
From the commute to boosted productivity when working from home, there are numerous benefits to flexible working that this period has uncovered for millions of employers and employees alike. Business leaders would do well to realise this and adapt now to pivot their business, remove unnecessary overheads and plan for a post-Covid future.”