Workers at accounting firm EY are expected to work from home for at least two days a week, even after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, in the latest sign of the life-changing pandemic in the office.
The company, formerly known as Ernst & Young, told UK employees via video call on Monday that 17,000 employees would switch to a ‘hybrid work model’ that mixes home and office work – as well as tours to customers – once social distancing the notice is removed.
Home care orders in the event of a pandemic have prompted many office businesses to re-evaluate their work practices. Flexible working is seen by many employees as an advantage, while for companies it offers the appeal of a potential reduction in office costs.
Some accounting and consulting firms had started moving towards hybrid work even before the pandemic. EY’s announcement comes after two of its other ‘Big Four’ accounting competitors also announced that they will be switching to hybrid models. In March, PwC said it would allow workers to stay home half the time, while KPMG said this month it would expect employees to work just two days at the office per week.
Hywel Ball, President of EY UK, said: “The pandemic experience has brought new perspectives to our employees and customers on how they manage their work lives.”
He added that he believed that “there will always be a need for EY to have offices across the UK, but the way we use our offices in the future will change with a greater emphasis on collaboration rather than as an individual workplace ”.
The pandemic has had different effects on work patterns in different industries. Even amid the last nationwide lockdown in February, 44% of UK adult workers left their homes to work, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. That figure had risen to 62% of working adults by mid-May.
In industries that can offer working from home, the willingness to make a change appears to be mixed. Google said it expected 20% of its staff to work from home permanently in the future, while social media company Twitter was among the first during the pandemic to say employees would be allowed to stay away from the office permanently.
HSBC and JP Morgan said in April that thousands of employees will be working from home permanently, although Goldman Sachs, another bank, has taken the opposite view, encouraging staff to return as soon as possible.