PwC UK chairman says offices will “remain a key part of working life”

Joanna Bourke
·2-min read
Top accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers has banned all-male shortlists for executive positions: PA Archive/PA Images
Top accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers has banned all-male shortlists for executive positions: PA Archive/PA Images

Accountancy firm PwC’s UK chairman has said the office will “remain a key part of working life”, despite scores of people in London still doing their jobs from home.

Kevin Ellis, PwC UK chairman and senior partner, said his company is not planning to downsize its office space, a statement the commercial property market will welcome.

PwC, one of the Big Four accounting firms, is one of numerous businesses that has had UK staff largely working from home since the Covid-19 lockdown started in March.

It has offices in London Bridge and Embankment, as well as other parts of Britain, and has 22,000 staff in the UK.

A number of staff had been returning to PwC offices from July, but the government last month outlined measures to try and tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.

The government said office workers who can work effectively from home “should do so over the winter”.

PwC’s Ellis said: “The future of the market for office space is difficult to predict, if anything at the moment we need more space than ever because of social distancing. From the messages I get from our people, I know that many really value having the option to use an office, whether for a personal or business need.”

A number of companies have said that post-Covid they expect to offer more flexible working, with a mixture of home and office working.

Ellis said: “Hybrid working is here to stay, and therefore the office will remain a key part of working life.”

A number of office lettings are expected to be signed in London, despite fears that businesses will hold off leasing decisions while people continue to work from home, according to research earlier this month from Jefferies.

Mike Prew and Andrew Gill, analysts at Jefferies, wrote in a report: “Of the 12m sq ft London offices under construction, 60% is taken, so there is an emerging scarcity and the pre-letting market is expected to be brisk.”

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