KPMG is to spend £44m on replacing rows of desks in its offices with meeting rooms and conference halls in a fresh sign the Covid home working revolution is here to stay.
The firm’s UK chairman Bill Michael said that a 28,000 sq ft hi-tech meeting facility at its Canary Wharf headquarters will be used as a model for other offices so staff can work more flexibly – with much less overall space likely to be needed in future.
Bill Michael, KPMG’s UK chairman, said Canary Wharf will be used as a model for other offices so staff can work flexibly Bill Michael, KPMG’s UK chairman, said Canary Wharf will be used as a model for other offices so staff can work flexibly.
The firm’s “hybrid” meeting areas include big screens, digital whiteboards and data analytics tools to help employees in the office work easily with colleagues and clients not in the room.
It came as hedge fund Man Group announced it would refurbish its Riverbank House HQ to focus on flexible working with hot desks and quiet areas. KPMG’s partners suffered an 11pc cut in pay last year as demand for its consultants was hit by the pandemic and it avoided using taxpayer-backed furlough and emergency loan schemes.
Mr Michael said: “What we’re trying to do with our buildings is not to think of them as a place to work. It’s a place to collaborate, use technology, network.”
The number of days staff spend in the office is likely to depend on their individual roles. Mr Michael said he expects that the changes will mean KPMG needs far less office space, assuming the number of employees stays the same – a warning likely to worry economists who fear that fewer office workers will have a brutal effect on town and city centres. KPMG is also seeking to adapt to stricter regulation of big accounting firms following an outcry after a string of scandals were missed by the major players. It is trying to sell its restructuring and insolvency business, which could be worth about £400m, because of conflicts of interest with its audit arm. The firm is still seeking a buyer for its private members club in Mayfair.
Take a 360 tour of “The Office of The Future” at The Ale House, Reading - www.thealehousereading.com