PwC LLP has a work anywhere policy in place for its 55,000 U.S. employees, allowing them to choose a fully virtual work option in an effort to retain and attract workers, a move that could push the profession forward. to adopt long-term remote working.

The company will also require staff to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to visit any PwC office or a client’s home starting November 1.

The company’s new policies, announced to staff on Thursday, will help expand its reach to potential hires as well as retain top talent in a competitive market, PwC said.

Larger accounting firms have increasingly adopted flexible working arrangements that allow staff to decide where to work on any day, with an emphasis on using the desk to bring teams together for training or planning. But PwC is the first of the Big Four to announce a policy that considers all remote workers.

“We want our employees to feel as safe as possible, and if that ultimately means they want to do their job 100% from home, we’re going to figure out how to make it work,” said Shannon Schuyler, responsible for the company. and inclusion agent. “I hope that opens the door for more people to come to the practice and for more people to feel like it is who they want to be now.”

Clients also face similar questions about the future of working with their own teams, she said. Some are willing to have PwC staff work on site, others are not. The business will need to be nimble to match staff with the right skills with the right customers based on those expectations of flexibility, said Schuyler.

The company began reopening office lots to staff earlier this year, with all locations slated to reopen by November, giving staff the option of a hybrid work schedule, she said.

Talent war

Wider acceptance of virtual work comes amid an accounting hiring crisis.

Employers ranging from corporations to large CPA firms must increasingly offer higher salaries and signing bonuses to turn applicants into new hires. The ability to work virtually full-time, or even part-time, is among the benefits workers are looking for, said Jeramy Kaiman, who heads professional recruiting services for Adecco Group North America.

“This is the most candidate-friendly hiring market I have ever seen,” Kaiman said.

These recruiting strategies trickle down to existing staff, becoming a tool to retain workers already on the payroll. And the repeated extensions of hybrid and remote work with the advent of the delta variant of the coronavirus have only strengthened its acceptance, he said.

“The more people work remotely, the more they get used to it, love it and want it, and the more comfortable businesses feel they can be successful and productive while people are working remotely,” he said. -he declares.

America’s top 10 accounting firms typically offer some variety of flexible and remote working today, but these models are likely to become permanent fixtures as business leaders realize they need to They have no choice but to loosen their grip on traditional office work, said Allan Koltin, a consultant. accounting and law firms on how to run their businesses.

He compared it to giving up suits for business casual; the profession has never looked back. Companies that don’t make remote working part of their culture and treat these workers on an equal basis with office-based ones “are going to have serious problems in the future trying to compete,” Koltin said.

The competition

PwC competitor Ernst & Young LLP offers staff the option of working at a client site, EY office, or home, and has yet to require staff to be vaccinated to enter shared workplaces.

KPMG LLP will require vaccinations or negative Covid tests before staff can enter company offices from Monday. The cabinet said it was continuing to embrace flexible working and working on the details of a “hybrid model to bring people together with a focus on health, wellness and connection.”

Deloitte LLP told Bloomberg Tax in a statement that the company plans to gradually move from a mostly remote working method to a hybrid model with a customizable mix of remote, client and office work. “We will ultimately foster the best of impactful face-to-face relationships and mentoring, as well as continued great flexibility,” the company said.

The company had previously said it would require staff to be vaccinated.

BDO USA LLP announced a flexible working policy in May, allowing staff to decide where to work using a mix of remote, office or on-site work that will vary from week to week, the company said. . The changes will provide staff with a better work-life balance and ensure the company is an attractive place to work, BDO said.

Overlapping objectives

The change in where people work is also changing the way PwC uses its offices and the number of airline trips expected of staff, but it’s not yet clear how much less, Schuyler said.

The company expects the desks to be used for team planning and brainstorming, as well as for training. Some plane travel will still be necessary, but the company is starting to check which airlines to use and the types of fuel those planes consume, all with the goal of meeting carbon-neutral emissions targets by 2030.

Air travel accounts for a significant portion of the company’s carbon emissions, according to a report detailing its diversity and environmental commitments and progress.

In 2019, before the pandemic, air travel accounted for 87% of the company’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In 2021, that figure fell to 9.5%, according to the report.

The U.S. company also released updated data on its workforce diversity and retention trends, showing that men and women are being paid equally and pay equity is largely achieved. between racial and ethnic groups.

The company has lost fewer women than men over the past year, but has struggled to find experienced women interested in joining the company when trying to fill vacancies, Schuyler said.

PwC has also revised its minority hiring targets to increase its black and Hispanic workforce by half over the next four years. The firm also aims to increase the number of women and minority partner candidates by 50% by 2026.