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Deloitte Changes Its Mind on Downsizing Office Space in the UK

Deloitte offices in downtown San Jose

Remember a couple years back when people started talking about return-to-office and a year or so after that when Big 4 accountants everywhere asked how their firms could require them back in the office given so many of them had downsized office space during the pandemic? About that…


Deloitte has taken on extra office space in central London less than two years after making cutbacks, in an about-turn that indicates staff in professional services are returning to the workplace more regularly.

The Big Four accounting and consulting firm took on about 70,000 sq ft of space near its New Street Square headquarters in February, people familiar with the details told the Financial Times, increasing the size of its central London estate by almost a fifth.

Deloitte sharply reduced its office space because of the pandemic and the shift to working from home, closing two of its buildings in central London in 2021 and 2022. At the time, the firm said the move reflected its “ways of working” and “sustainability objectives”.

In June 2021, Deloitte UK pushed out this press release titled “Deloitte gives its 20,000 people the choice of when and where they work.” It said:

Deloitte’s chief executive, Richard Houston, has today confirmed that all of its UK people will be able to choose when, where and how they work in the future, once it is safe to do so.

Deloitte has long been a champion of agile working, with extended flexible working in place since 2014. While less than half of the firm’s UK workforce worked from home on a regular basis pre-COVID-19, the pandemic has accelerated Deloitte’s hybrid working model. Up to 20,000 people in the UK have worked from home or remotely since March last year.

Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive, Deloitte, commented: “The impact of the pandemic has profoundly changed our way of life, not least in the way we work. The last year has really shown that one size does not fit all when it comes to balancing work and personal lives. It has also shown that we can trust our people to make the right choice in when, how and where they work.

“Once the Government has lifted all of the COVID-19 restrictions and we’re back up to full office capacity, we will let our people choose where they need to be to do their best work, in balance with their professional and personal responsibilities. I’m not going to announce any set number of days for people to be in the office 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.”

A recent staff survey revealed that 81% of respondents anticipate working from a Deloitte office for up to two days a week in the future. The research also showed that 96% of Deloitte’s people want to have the freedom to choose how flexibly they will work in the future.

In addition, 86% of respondents ranked ‘collaborating with team colleagues’ and ‘interacting with others’ within their top three ways they envisage using the office in the future.

In April 2022, they scored themselves a nice little story in The Times for downsizing their office space in London:

Deloitte does the numbers and makes hybrid working permanent

Working from home is here to stay at Deloitte, which has scaled back its London office space in one of the biggest reductions of its kind since the pandemic.

The accountancy and consulting firm has cut its office space in the capital by more than a third as employees increasingly adopt a hybrid model of working partly in the office and partly from home.

It has abandoned two buildings which had 250,000 sq ft of office space in total, cutting its holdings to just two remaining sites with 485,000 sq ft of space for workers.

And now we’re here. As far as we’re aware, Deloitte UK hasn’t issued an official return-to-office mandate but with all the layoffs over there in the past year, one might be wise to make their presence known in the office if they’re on a team where such a thing matters.

Deloitte reverses Covid cuts by expanding office space in London [Financial Times]

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