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Half-day Fridays as top accountancy firm PwC takes the initiative on flexible working


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The firm, which employs 22,000 UK-wide, said it wanted to allow greater flexibility to workers post-pandemic

The firm, which employs 22,000 UK-wide, said it wanted to allow greater flexibility to workers post-pandemic

The firm, which employs 22,000 UK-wide, said it wanted to allow greater flexibility to workers post-pandemic

Accountancy firm PwC, which has around 2,000 staff in Northern Ireland, has said employees will be encouraged to take a half day on Fridays after a condensed week as part of future flexible working.

The firm, which employs 22,000 UK-wide, said it wanted to allow greater flexibility to workers post-pandemic.

There are three aspects to its plan - allowing people to decide their own working pattern every day, allowing people to continuing working from home but with at least 40% of their time in the office, and taking a half day on a Friday in July and August after condensing their work into the rest of the week.

Its workers here are to move into new offices at Merchant Square in Belfast city centre in the summertime - a building which was sold for £87m this week in Northern Ireland's biggest-ever office deal.

PwC said its "empowered day" concept gave staff the freedom to set their own working pattern. They can also keeping working from home but must combine that with an average of 40-60% of their time with colleagues in PwC offices or at client sites.

PwC said that in July and August, a reduced working day on a Friday will mean staff should finish at lunchtime after condensing their working week.

The policies will be phased in as lockdown restrictions ease.

Kevin MacAllister, regional market leader for PwC in Northern Ireland, said: "Over the past year our people have shown just how committed they are to our clients, even in the most trying circumstances.

"We've long promoted everyday flexibility and the new deal is about further empowering our people to hold on to the ways of working that have been successful over the past year.

"We know from surveys that our people value having an office space and our new Belfast HQ Merchant Square will not only provide a state-of-the-art base with a dedicated wellbeing space, but will also be open 24/7 to provide even greater flexibility."

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC, added: "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. We want to help enshrine new working patterns so they outlast the pandemic.

PwC is the latest big organisation to commit to hybrid working in the post-pandemic future.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed this week that the NICS is in talks with trade unions about future remote working for its 23,000 workforce. That could include home working or the use of 10 regional hubs. The hubs are to be established over the next two years.

Business advisory firm Deloitte, which has more than 1,000 staff in Belfast, has said it's moving ahead with a move to new offices at Bedford Square after vacating its old premises at Bedford Street.

"Deloitte has long been a proponent of agile working and across the UK we have had up to 20,000 people working from home safely and securely since March 2020, ensuring business continuity throughout this time."

And IT firms like CANCOM and Liberty IT have said they expect to continue with some form of hybrid working, though e-commerce company IRP Commerce has said it looks forward to getting staff back into the office to foster camaraderie and common purpose.

Our biggest IT firm, Allstate, has not yet confirmed its plans.


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