Deloitte is the first of the Big Four to announce it is reducing the amount of office space occupied by the firm as a result of the impact coronavirus has had on working patterns, with plans to shut four of its offices
The pandemic has seen most of the firm’s employees working from home for extended periods. Earlier in the year, Deloitte reported it had 20,000 people working from home safely and securely since mid-March.
Stephen Griggs, Deloitte UK managing partner, 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.’
Deloitte proposes to close its Gatwick, Liverpool, Nottingham and Southampton offices permanently. The firm is consulting with Deloitte staff based out of these offices to move to a permanent homeworking contract.
Griggs said: ‘Everyone based in these locations will continue to be employed by Deloitte and any proposed change is to our “bricks and mortar”, not our presence in these regions.
‘We remain committed to these regional markets and will continue our close relationships with our clients, society partners and communities, just without a physical building.’
Deloitte has around 50 offices across the British Isles in 22 locations.
At the beginning of this month, the firm said its annual results had been hit by the impact of coronavirus.
The Big Four firm reported revenues were up 9.1% overall for the year ended 31 May 2020, from £3.95bn in the previous year.
In the first ten months of the financial year, prior to the effects of the pandemic, revenue growth was close to 11%, with all businesses growing.
However, revenues in April and May 2020 were significantly impacted by Covid-19, with growth dropping to around 2%.
Distributable profit for the year ended 31 May 2020 was £518m, down 16% from £617m in the prior year.
Earlier this summer Deloitte, in common with others of the Big Four, indicated small numbers of staff would head back to the office in the early autumn. However, the subsequent changes in government advice and public measures to slow any surge in Covid infections since then have largely halted the process.
Back in June, PwC led the way for the Big Four in suggesting staff would be moving back to offices, with Kevin Ellis, PwC’s senior partner, stating he expected half of the 22,000-strong staff to be working in the firm’s UK offices by the end of September.
However, at the time Ellis also said that in the medium to long term he believed the majority will be working flexibly, and spending time working remotely. KPMG said it expected the majority of staff to work from home until next year, while EY said it did not expect to see large numbers in the office.
A survey of just under 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has shown that that 74% plan on maintaining the increase in home working, while more than half planned on reducing their long-term use of workplaces.
Roger Barker, director of policy at the IoD, said that remote working has been one of the most tangible impacts of coronavirus on the economy, but that companies are not likely to switch over completely to this approach.
‘The benefits of the office haven't gone away. For many companies, bringing teams together in person proves more productive and enjoyable.
‘Shared workspace often provides employees the opportunity for informal development and networking that is so crucial, particularly early on in a career,’ Barker said.