Wednesday 12 August 2020 10:03 am

PwC boss Kevin Ellis: returning to work like ‘crossing the Rubicon for some people…you have got to make them feel safe’

The chair and senior partner of PwC UK Kevin Ellis said the Big Four firm had found it needed to overcome fear among some of its workers to help them return to the office.

Speaking on City A.M.’s The City View podcast, Ellis said: “It is about crossing the Rubicon for some people…you have got to make them feel safe.”

Read more: The City View: PwC chairman Kevin Ellis on why the office matters

Ellis said: “When people have come into the office and I have chatted to them they have said they have got used to working from home, they were more nervous about coming in, but now they have come in they have enjoyed it…and they have also said they will be back more often”

The firm moved its 22,000 UK staff to home working when the pandemic struck, but has since gradually moved to reopen, with 6,000 of its staff having worked in the office since lockdown lifted.

Ellis said he was keen to get workers back in the office to help reduce isolation among staff, to provide camaraderie and to foster learning and development.

Read more: PwC staff encouraged to return to work

“We are a learning based organisation. You can learn from home, you can learn online, but a lot of the learning in a business like ours is team learning, as well as innovating by joint ideas and sharing ideas,” he said.

Ellis also said the return to the office would help ancillary staff such as front-of-house workers and security as well as supporting jobs in city centres.

“If we don’t go back to work, then all of our support services, our security, our catering, the people who look after our offices, they can’t go back to work either, that is a challenge as well, as well as the local businesses,” he said.

Read more: PwC to reopen UK offices from 8 June following coronavirus lockdown easing

“The local businesses are reliant on the footfall, in London you haven’t got the tourists, so without offices too there are going to be a lot of jobs lost in the covid-driven recession that will follow, therefore we all have a responsibility to play our part. Therefore the community aspect of reopening the offices and supporting people back to work safely is important,” Ellis said.