A ‘Big Four’ firm will allow 40,000 employees to work from home

Interior of a modern home office next to a big window. Light wood desk with organized set up of books, office supplies and computer with some room decor around it.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/peterschreiber.media)

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting and consulting giant, will allow all its 40,000 US-based service employees to work virtually from anywhere in the United States, the company confirmed to CNN Friday.

The company said this is the first announcement of its kind from a professional services firm in the US, marking a shift away from the way companies approached work culture before the pandemic.

PwC is one of the “Big Four” accounting firms, which are known for their strenuous workloads. The company has 55,000 US employees. Friday’s announcement applies only to those who work with clients, such as auditors, consultants and tax professionals. Other workers, such as workplace services teams and IT professionals, have to be in the office.

The company went to a hybrid work model in March, with some employees working remotely and other working up to three days a week in the office. It opened all its US offices in September with limited capacity.

PwC said it opted to change its policy to better retain talent and recruit a diverse workforce. Employees who choose to work virtually in low-cost locations might face a pay cut, according to Reuters.

“We are unveiling these enhancements to our people experience to respond to what their needs are in this changing work environment, to continue to put flexibility and well-being benefits at the center, and expand the pool of people we attract and recruit to achieve our aggressive hiring goals and our [diversity, equity and inclusion] aspirations,” PwC said in a statement.

Prior to the pandemic, approximately 7,000 of the company’s business service group — its non-client service staff — were already working virtually, and had the option to go into any office for connectivity. Some employees, such as those who work in IT and workplace services, will need to be in-person, the company said.

Employees have two weeks from October 1 to let their managers know if they want to transition into a virtual role, though they can modify that as time goes on.

A recent PwC survey found 65% of all US employees are looking for a new job, and 88% of executives said they are seeing higher turnover than normal. The most cited reasons for job-hunting included wages, benefits, career advancement and flexibility, according to the survey.

A number of major US financial institutions, such as Wells Fargo and BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, have pushed back their in-person start dates due to the Delta variant.

This isn’t the PWC’s only big change this year. In June, the 160-year-old company announced sweeping reorganization measures, merging its accounting and tax lines of service into a single function that will be called Trust Solutions. The firm also is revamped its advisory business, which includes cybersecurity, privacy, cloud, M&A and tax consulting, into a single Consulting Solutions unit. And it launched what it calls the Trust Leadership Institute, which aims to train more than 10,000 business leaders to make responsible decisions.

“This is a once-in-a-generation change,” Tim Ryan, US chairman of PwC, told CNN Business.

CNN’s Matt Egan contributed to this report.

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