PwC staff encouraged to return to work on a voluntary basis

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PwC staff encouraged to return to work on a voluntary basis

PwC staff have been encouraged to return to work on a voluntary basis, as the Big Four company’s chairman heralded the end of “presenteeism forever”.

Kevin Ellis, chairman 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.

COVID-19 has “bashed away presenteeism forever”, Ellis said, adding that PwC would look to slash office attendance from five days a week to three or four days a week as a result of the pandemic.

PwC has 20 UK offices, including two in London in Embankment and Southwark.

Ellis said employees were keen to return to work after months of lockdown to get out of the house and support local businesses. 

“Just because you can work from home, doesn’t mean you should,” he said. “There are other factors; mental health and stress ones — our average age is 31 — but also the local communities.”

It comes as Boris Johnson on Friday encouraged staff to “enter discussions” with their employers to start returning to work, after slamming the brakes on wider lockdown relaxations due to a spike in new infections.

The move marks a significant shake-up to guidance that has been in place for more than four months, which required everyone who could work from home to do so.

Firms will instead decide who to start bringing back to the workplace. 

Announcing the change, the PM said: “We are going to give employers more discretion.

“That could mean of course continuing to work from home, which is one way of working safely and which has worked for many employers and employees. Or it could mean making workplaces safe by following Covid-secure guidelines.”

Offices will see extra cleaning routines, socially distanced desks, and screens and floor markings across office floors. 

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