PwC offers UK staff shorter Friday work hours for summer

PricewaterhouseCoopers has told its accountants and other staff they can finish work early on Fridays over the summer, becoming the latest company to offer flexible work incentives to try to keep employees happy and compete for talent.

The accountancy firm has written to its 22,000 UK staff and told them they can knock off at lunchtime on Fridays between 1 June and 31 August, assuming they get their work done. It expects the majority of employees to benefit from this.

The move comes after PwC ran a pilot of “summer working hours” in July and August last year, which proved so popular that the policy has been extended by another month this summer. A poll of 6,000 staff showed three-quarters of them felt that the shortened hours “impacted their general wellbeing to a great extent”.

More than 90% thought the policy was a good idea, and three-quarters said spending more time with family and friends was the greatest benefit.

Kevin Ellis, PwC UK’s chairman, said: “We knew summer working hours would be popular with our people, but the positive impact on wellbeing surpassed expectations. Not everyone could take every Friday, but they benefited from less email traffic when they did and a chance to switch off properly.

“We’ve had another exceptionally busy year and as we approach the summer holiday period, we hope our policy gives people more time for themselves, their friends and their families.”

Summer working hours are part of “The Deal”, PwC’s approach to hybrid working introduced last spring. It means staff can work from home some of the time and decide their own hours, but are expected to spend two to three days a week in the office or at client sites. In October, the firm introduced flexible bank holidays, allowing people to take up to two bank holidays when it suits them.

The company, one of the big four accountancy firms, is competing for talent with its three rivals. Deloitte said in June it would let its 20,000 UK employees decide “when, where and how they work” after the success of remote working during the Covid crisis.

In the City, the UK stockbroker FinnCap has pledged to give its employees unlimited holiday to prevent staff burnout, while last spring the global investment bank Citigroup’s new chief executive, Jane Fraser, introduced “Zoom-free Fridays” and an additional holiday.

PwC posted a 2% rise in UK revenues to £4.4bn in the year to the end of June, while group profit climbed 25% to £1.2bn. Profit per partner rose by 27% to £868,000.