PricewaterhouseCoopers has told 40,000 US employees that they can work remotely from anywhere in the country, but risk having their pay cut if they move to locations with a lower cost of living.
The decision to allow employees to work remotely on a permanent basis is the Big Four’s most drastic response to the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the plan, customer-facing employees will be allowed to take part in « virtual » roles, and work from home except when they are occasionally needed in an office for team meetings, customer visits or other key events, according to PwC.
Employees who choose to work remotely will be required to come into the office no more than three days a month, Yolanda Seals Caufield, vice president for the American people at PricewaterhouseCoopers, who first reported the move, told Reuters.
The pay cut for employees moving to cheaper sites mirrors the approach of tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google.
PricewaterhouseCoopers said it is the first professional services company in the United States to allow employees to work remotely from any part of the country.
The decision to allow professionals to work primarily from home on a long-term basis is likely to force competitors, including the Big Four, Deloitte, EY and KPMG, to consider whether they will need to do the same in order to retain employees.
« We’ve learned a lot from the pandemic, and working by default, as we think about the evolution of resilience, is a natural next step, » said Sills Caufield.
“If you are an employee in good standing, working in customer service, and want to work virtually, you can stop completely,” she said.
PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that 30 to 35 percent of eligible employees choose permanent remote work. Partners who manage employees who come to the office regularly will not be allowed to work completely remotely.
The policy does not cover PwC’s 15,000 back office employees, including jobs such as human resources and IT support, most of whom are already able to work remotely.
PwC has left the door open to reversing the policy if permanent remote work does not work. « While these are not short-term moves and are meant to be ongoing choices for our employees, we will continue to evaluate and innovate – as we do with all of our policies, benefits and flexibility, » she said. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021
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