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Ernst & Young FSO Will No Longer *Officially* Be Asking Employees to Clock Mandatory Hours

It's been quite the past few days inside Chez Turley with people jumping up and down about their compensation numbers and the firm rolling out a new bonus structure. If that wasn't enough excitement for you, then let the news that the firm's FSO group will officially discontinue the busy season requirement of 55 chargeable hours serve as the latest flash out of the B&Y. We learned the news from a pair of tipsters that told us that the announcement was made on Friday.

As you well know, the practice of requiring a minimum number of chargeable hours is pretty common among accounting firms, so to have a major player say, "This doesn't work for us any more," might be seen as a progressive idea, but one of our tipsters was largely nonplussed:
I give them props for shaking things up, but this probably means jack shit to your average manager and below since:
1 – The firm measures revenue by the hour (yes, even for fixed fee audits). They've known for a long time that they can squeeze 55 chargeable hours out of most people without them dying or committing suicide, so it's unlikely that on average, anybody will be working less as revenues would suffer.
2 – The minute deployment sees you charging 47 hours, you'll be asked to help on another project, and
3 – Your partner and senior manager will still expect you to be at your desk late into the night, since that's the way they did it, and that's the way it will always be.
These points are well taken. No one in their right mind would take this news as an opportunity for a better life during busy season. In fact, this may make things worse because instead of everyone having a bright line measure of meeting expectations, now it's one giant guessing game.
But if you are one of those model engagement teams that is trying to "work smarter, not harder" this may be the opportunity you've been waiting for. In the past, plenty of people sat around trying to achieve three stars on every Angry Birds level waiting for the quitting time whistle when, in fact, there's really no good reason for anyone to be there. This could – COULD – change all that.
However, there is one additional problem that hasn't been addressed yet and that is the issue of those dopes on your team that sit around acting like they have no choice to stay at work for five more hours because they have SO MUCH TO DO. Depending on the rank of this offender, other people on the team may feel pressure to stay longer in the name of face time. Defying unwritten rule of "I work until my immediate superior stops working or drops dead" is something you do at your own risk. Most people cave to the pressure (especially younger members of the team) and take their cues from those working later (justifiably or not).
Official mandatory hours or no mandatory hours, one thing is for sure – these people that insist on putting in unnecessary hours fuck everything up for the rest of you because, as the tipster mentioned above, the average Senior Manager and Partner has adopted the attitude that putting in longers hours is a rite of passage. It is perhaps the most sacred of public accounting dogma and it won't die any time soon.