Deloitte has told its 20,000 UK staff that they can work wherever they want when Covid restrictions are lifted as the accountancy firm adopts a fully flexible approach.
In an email to staff on Friday, Richard Houston, Deloitte’s senior partner and chief executive, said he will not mandate employees to be in the office for a set number of days or in specific locations.
“That means that our people can choose how often they come to the office, if they choose to do so at all, while focusing on how we can best serve our clients,” he said.
The move goes further than its Big Four rivals KPMG, EY and PwC, which have all said employees will be required to go into the office at least two to three days a week.
Mr Houston said the pandemic has shown that the firm could trust its workers to make the right choice in terms of when, how and where they work, “in balance with their professional and personal responsibilities”.
Deloitte employees will only be able to work from locations in the UK under the plan, but the firm is also considering whether staff could work abroad for a period in the future.
The move comes a day after Downing Street said it was consulting on making flexible working the default option for millions of office workers, sparking fears that town and city centres may never regain their pre-crisis dynamism.
A recent internal survey at Deloitte showed that 96pc of employees wanted the freedom to choose their working patterns, while more than four in five said they expected to work in the office up to two days a week.
Accounting firms were quick to outline long-term hybrid working plans compared with other sectors that have been more reluctant to make concrete decisions.
Comparatively, major investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have already ordered a significant number of bankers back to the office. Earlier this week, the Morgan Stanley chief executive, James Gorman, told staff that if they are happy going to restaurants, then they can return to the office.
Deloitte was also one of several accounting firms to recently close some of its offices due to the reduced demand for space caused by remote working.
Mr Houston said once the Government allows for a return to offices at full capacity, Deloitte’s office buildings will be principally used for team collaboration, training and client meetings.
Houston added: “We want to ensure we keep the flexibility of remote working, without losing the connections and opportunities for collaboration that we need to make a difference for our clients, our people and for society.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to embrace the benefits from the last 16 months of being able to spend more time at home, while our people can be flexible in the way they work and reconnect with their colleagues and the office as needed.”