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From now PriceWaterhouseCooper employees will be able to work from home a couple of days a week and start as early or late as they like. This summer they can knock off early on Fridays too.

Following the pandemic the accountancy giant is offering its staff much more control over their working pattern. PwC chairman Kevin Ellis said he hoped this would make flexible working “the norm rather than the exception”.

“We want our people to feel trusted and empowered,” Mr Ellis said.

A year of working from home and juggling childcare when schools were closed and other responsibilities mounted has prompted many businesses to look again at the traditional working week. The building society Nationwide has told its staff they can choose whether to work at home or in the office. Oil giant BP has told office staff they can spend two days a week working from home and several banks are examining hybrid home-office arrangements.

But PwC is the first of the big four accountancy firms to announce their post-pandemic strategy.

Goldman Sachs’ chief executive made clear he saw working from home during the pandemic as an “aberration” saying young employees needed direct contact and mentorship that you could only get in the office.

But Mr Ellis said PwC wanted to retain a mix of working from home and the office. “Without conscious planning now there’s a risk we lose the best bits of these new ways of working when the economy opens up again,” he said.

“The future of work is changing at such a pace we have to evolve continually how we do things to meet the needs of our people and our clients.”

PwC expects staff to take a “blended working” approach, spending around half of their working hours either in the office or at clients’ workplaces.

There is an assumption that the majority of people will condense their working week and finish at lunchtime on a Friday during July and August, PwC said. The new policies will be phased in as lockdown restrictions ease and its 22,000 staff return to the office.

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