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UK's fifth largest accountant tells staff to work where they want

Man (early 30s) working in home office
BDO, which furloughed 700 staff last year, told staff to work wherever they are most productive depending on the task they are doing. Photo: Getty (MoMo Productions via Getty Images)

Accountancy firm BDO has told its employees they are able to decide on where they want to work after the pandemic.

An internal survey found that 79% of the company’s staff wanted to be able to work remotely or adopt a flexible hybrid model once the health crisis was over.

The company, which is the fifth-largest accounting firm in the UK, currently employs around 5,500 people across a total of 18 offices. BDO, which furloughed 700 staff last year, told staff to work wherever they are most productive depending on the task they are doing.

For most people this will include a mixture of working at home, in the office and at client sites, BDO said.


“Teams will work out amongst themselves with clients when they should be together and when they won’t,” Paul Eagland, BDO’s UK managing partner, told the Financial Times.

“I can’t give you a barcode or an algorithm to tell each person exactly where they need to be and what they need to do but the trust that we can carry forward from the pandemic is that each individual human probably knows what they’ve got to do,” he said.

Read more: Why companies are adopting 'work from anywhere' policies

The firm has also awarded staff members for their work during the pandemic, offering them a bonus of either one week’s pay in their September pay packet, or an extra week’s holiday, following similar bonuses at EY, Deloitte and Grant Thornton.

BDO, which has also announced that it will spend £8m ($11m) on refitting its London and Bristol offices, which has been closed since last year, is the latest in a string of companies embracing flexible work arrangements.

Staff at rival firm KPMG UK were told this month that they will spend an average of two days per week in the office from June, while PwC said it expects its workers to only be in the office between two and three days per week.

An increasing amount of companies are starting to consider remote work as a more permanent option due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Twitter (TWTR), Facebook (FB) and Square (SQ).

Watch: New normal? Banks split over home working

Earlier this year, the chief executive of Barclays (BARC.L) suggested that packed Canary Wharf office blocks could be ‘a thing of the past’ in the post-coronavirus era.

James ‘Jes’ Staley said there would be “a long-term adjustment” to the COVID-19 pandemic that would likely lead to more remote and dispersed working.

He said it was “remarkable” that 70,000 Barclays staff were now working remotely, showing that it was possible to keep a complex organisation like a bank going even when not all together.

“We will find ways to operate with more distancing over a much longer period of time,” he said.

Barclays could use its bank branch network as mini-offices, Staley said, suggesting call centre workers and even investment bankers could be based out of branches.

Meanwhile, investment banks Goldman Sachs (GS) and JP Morgan (JPM) have told staff to be ready to return to the office once restrictions are lifted.

Watch: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?