'Energy is scarce' | Is PwC's Christmas office shutdown a move all HR teams should consider?

Is PwC's Christmas office shutdown a move all HR teams should consider?

Accountancy giant PwC will close its offices over the Christmas and New Year period in a bid to cut down on energy costs.

The firm, which employs about 24,000 people, will shut its main London office as well as some smaller sites.

In a memo to staff, the firm said: “With many using the festive period to take a well-earned break from work, and with offices typically being quieter during that time, this year we will be taking the opportunity to reduce our energy consumption further by reducing the space we heat and light...”

Chairman Kevin Ellis said having all the firm’s 19 UK offices open over the festive period "doesn't make sense at a time of energy scarcity", adding that staff wanted the company to "do our bit to reduce energy consumption".

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"Office life is hugely important to our culture and business," he said, adding: "But having all our offices open over the holiday period doesn't make sense at a time of energy scarcity.

"We've taken a pragmatic approach ensuring some offices across the country remain open for those who need them.

The BBC reported that an internal PwC memo said that workspace would still be made available for staff based in London, with some regional offices setting out specific areas for workers to access.

Risk of employee backlash as firms look to cut energy costs

PwC’s concerns about energy use are being shared by many UK firms, with many bosses the financial impact of keeping sites open.

And according to a new survey of 1,000 senior leaders, 64% are considering reversing their rhetoric around encouraging employees back into the office for this very reason.

However, this change of heart from businesses could spark backlash amongst UK employees. According to 1,000 UK office workers surveyed as part of the same study, the average worker predicts they could save £38 a month on home energy bills by coming into the office over the winter period.

When asked how they plan to support employers through the cost of living crisis in winter, 42% of business leaders say they plan to offer mental health support. Nearly a third (30%) of leaders will offer overtime and 22% of workers plan to ask for overtime and extra hours.

UK workers are also considering taking on side hustles (45%) to support themselves during the cost of living crisis. Working remotely has helped 70% of UK workers achieve a better work life balance, giving them more time to explore passive income if required.

Bukki Adedapo, Fiverr’s Head of UK, comments: “The divide between workers' and bosses’ opinions towards remote and office work is becoming increasingly apparent. We have now reached a point where productivity and in-person connection at the office is at loggerheads with UK businesses’ urgent need to cut energy costs during the winter period.

In addition, 41% of the companies surveyed said it is likely their remote work policies will change again in 2023.

For workers, this instability may be a cause for concern. During this time, it is vital that companies provide clarity on their intentions and give employees the support they need during this period of uncertainty. Employees that do not feel that they are being given the choice about how and where they work may seek positions where this choice is clear.”

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