The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced the accounting group Deloitte to cut down on costs while its need for expensive office spaces and leases has also come down because of the rising trend of working from home for its employees, the group now plans to therefore close down four of the fifty offices that it had in the United Kingdom within the next few months.
The company plans to make an offer of working full time from home or remote working to almost 500 of its employees who are currently employed by the company at its offices in Gatwick, Liverpool, Nottingham and Southampton in he UK.
The position of the rest of its real estate portfolio is being “continually reviewed” by a property team at Deloitte, said reports quoting sources close to the firm.
With a total employees strength of 19,000 in the United Kingdom, Deloitte is one of the first large UK based companies that has decided not to renew renting leases for a number of its properties that it uses as office space while also encouraging a mass shift among its employees towards working from home since the pandemic started in the country.
In an interview on the issue to the Financial Times, Deloitte’s UK managing partner, Stephen Griggs said: “Covid-19 has fast-tracked our future of work programme, leading us to review our real estate portfolio and how we use our offices across the UK, including London.”
The employees currently employed at all of the four office spaces that the company plans to close down soon “will continue to be employed by Deloitte and any proposed change is to our ‘bricks and mortar’, not our presence in these regions”, he said.
In order to protect jobs and preserve cash during the coronavirus crisis, pay cut by a fifth for its partners was implemented by the Big Four accounting firms.
It revealed last month that the UK firm’s distributable profits in the 12 months to the end of May fell 16 per cent to £518m.
If there is a long-term shift to working from home, it could create “ghost towns” because passing trade from office workers is crucial for city centres and local businesses, warned CBI, the business lobby group.
The “blanket recommendation to work from home risks stalling the capital’s recovery and damaging long-term competitiveness”, cautioned the City of London Corporation, the municipal authority covering the capital’s business district.
Plans of closure of more than a third of its 250 offices and encourage tousands of its employees to work from home for good were announced by Capita, a major government outsourcer, in August.
Since the UK government encouraged work from home or remote working and abandoned its push to get more workers to return to office last ,month because of a surge in Covdi-19 infections, long-term strategies for remote working are being considered by more companies in the country.
(Adapted from FT.com)