PwC UK is the first major consulting firm to announce new working arrangements for its 22,000 staff, setting a precedent for progressive firms looking to embrace organisational agility and attract diverse talent in 2021 as the country continues its route out of lockdown.

With mounting research showing the majority of employees want the best of both worlds at work, the developing ‘hybrid workplace’ that combines office and home-based working could prove to be a deal breaker for recruiting and retaining talent, whether full-time, part-time or contract project-based workers.

Chances are other consulting firms will look to follow PwC’s lead and accommodate hybrid work environments if they want to access a talent pool with fewer geographic restrictions and reap the health and productivity benefits that flexi-working brings.

Referred to as the ‘deal’, the changes at PwC will allow greater flexibility for post-pandemic working and align with the firm’s net zero commitment, with the model built on two-way flexibility and trust to meet the needs of staff, clients and the firm.

Key elements of the deal will include an ‘empowered day’, which aims to give PwC staff more freedom to decide the most effective working pattern on any given day, as well as flexibility to continue working from home as part of blended working. PwC expects that people will spend an average of 40-60 percent of their time with colleagues, either in offices or at client sites.

Staff will also have a reduced working day on Fridays during July and August, with the assumption that the majority will finish at lunchtime, having condensed their working week.

The policies will be phased in as lockdown restrictions ease and more people return to the office over the coming months.

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC, said: “These changes are in direct response to soundings from our people, who’ve said they value a mix of working from home and in the office. We want to help enshrine new working patterns, so they outlast the pandemic.”

Laura Hinton, chief people officer at PwC, added: “While not everyone is able to work flexibly all of the time, we want to make it as easy as possible when they do. From discussions with our people and clients, we believe these changes will make a real difference, helping support greater work life balance and giving our people more confidence to work flexibly.”