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February 2, 2023

Apparently Staff at Deloitte UK Did Not Warm Up to the Firm’s Money-Saving Cold Office Policy

a little wiener dog in snow

In what was a particularly dry day for news seeing as it was the first Monday of a new year and nothing ever happens in accounting anyway, yesterday’s Monday accounting news brief included a story ripped from BBC about Deloitte lowering the temps at its UK offices as policy. I shall endeavor to copy and paste that blurb again now.

Energy costs have soared in the wake of Covid and the invasion of Ukraine.

Deloitte told its 23,000 UK staff that its offices would now be heated to between 19 (66.2 F) and 22C (71.6 F) as part of new energy-saving plans.

It said that the temperature range in its UK offices, while lower, would still be more than the minimum 16C guideline from the Health and Safety Executive for those in desk jobs.

16C is 60 degrees F btw.

Anyway, this morning we got an email purporting to be from the inside suggesting that leadership made these decisions from the comforts of their properly-heated homes and have now walked back the policy featured mere days ago in the UK press. Let’s read:

The BBC/FT story you reference in today’s article has been causing head-scratching amongst Deloitte employees who were actually coming in to the office throughout December when the policy was implemented.

After nearly two weeks of half the people literally wearing parkas at their desks it’s been pretty obvious that they’ve rowed back from this policy, returning the office to more ‘normal’ temperatures.

What’s more ironic about the way our PR team seems to be relishing this policy is the disproportionately negative effect it has on women [Ed. note: the email linked to a New Yorker article entitled Is Your Thermostat Sexist? — worth a read!] – which was blatantly obvious in terms of numbers having to wrap up last month. Clearly our PR team have been busily “working from home”, protecting them from the chilling effects of this gimmick of a policy.

We asked our emailer to elaborate on their observations. They explained that as a result of the colder temps in the office, women were much more likely to be bundled up and some decided not to come in at all to avoid it.

A number actually gave up on coming in to the office altogether – meaning they’d be using more heating at home, and likely increasing, rather than decreasing, the overall energy being used (so much for it being about “Net Zero”).

Deloitte UK Senior Partner and Chief Executive Richard Houston said that the money saved by keeping offices cooler in December (expected to be about £75,000 which is ≈$90k USD) would be donated to a disability charity called Scope. He also added that the firm is hearing from staff and clients alike that they want Deloitte to embrace ways to “work more sustainably.” It seems this ain’t it, chief.

Deloitte cuts UK office temperatures by 2C to save energy [BBC]
Deloitte cuts temperatures in UK offices by 2C to save energy [Financial Times]

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