January 20, 2022

With Omicron Threatening to Send Everyone Back Inside, KPMG UK Reminds Audit Staff to Get Back to the Office

Alright so we’re sourcing this one from Reddit which, yeah, I know but since the bulk of our sources are on this side of the pond, it’s the best place to find international Big 4 news other than obscure local papers or from unmemorable African newspapers.

A screenshot of an email sent out by KPMG UK Head of Audit Catherine Burnet outlines eager plans to get everyone back in the office for at least two days a week — by staff demand — plus a couple days at the client site which leaves … Sundays for work-from-home?

Anyway, here’s the email. Ignore the “FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY” part, I mean OP sure did.

Email transcribed below for your reading pleasure:

Hi everyone,

I hope you were able to join the fantastic Connect Live event last week. You can watch again on demand via links in last week’s Newsroom.

I wanted to reiterate the message that Tim Jones [ed. note: Tim is KPMG UK’s chief operating officer] shared around Reconnection to ensure everyone is clear.

Our reconnection Phase has been a period of testing and learning. Since we entered Reconnection on 31 August, I know that many of you have enjoyed reconnecting with each other in person for the first time since the pandemic began. Colleagues have told us they’d like to return to the office for two days each week and we’re using colleague feedback to shape our plans [ed. note: bullshit].

So, going forward we are now expecting our client-facing colleagues to make the shift to hybrid working and spend a minimum of two days a week working together, in the office or ideally on audited entity sites. We feel this is vital to ensure we collaborate more efficiently, deliver high-quality audits, and continue to develop our technical and personal skills.

In due course, we expect colleagues to be working two to three days per week at the audited entity site, one day in the office, and one to two days at home [ed. note: math checks out]. The days at the audited entity and in the office should be together as teams, whereas homeworking should be for specific tasks.

To keep us safe and track COVID cases, we’ll continue to use our UK Return app and desk-booking system. We also want to know when you’re on an audited entity site, so we’ll be enhancing the app to make that easier to record.

We want you to spend the right amount of time together, but we’ll no longer use the app to limit the days you can spend in the office. That means you’ll have the flexibility to choose the best days for you and your team.

You’ll recall that KPMG UK specifically and violently got dragged by the Financial Reporting Council earlier this year for abysmal audit quality with the FRC writing at the time:

Inspection results at KPMG did not improve and it is unacceptable that, for the third year running, the FRC found improvements were required to KPMG’s audits of banks and similar entities. Given the systemic importance of banks to the UK economy, the FRC will be closely monitoring KPMG’s actions to ensure findings are addressed in a timely manner. KPMG has agreed additional improvement activities to be delivered this year over and above its existing audit quality improvement plan.

So this move may be due at least in part to the FRC breathing down their necks and watching every move, which as we know is harder to do when auditors are making said moves from the comfort of home.

In May, The Guardian reported on KPMG UK’s hybrid working plan to include two days a week at the office, so really nothing in the above email should come as a surprise to any Brit Klynveldians:

Accounting and consultancy group KPMG has told its 16,000 UK staff that they will have to work only an average of two days in the office each week from next month, as the firm revealed its plans for a post-pandemic hybrid working model.

Under the new initiative, which the company has called the “four-day fortnight”, staff will spend the remaining days working either from home or at client sites.

See? It all looks eerily familiar. At the end of the day, we all knew auditors couldn’t stay home forever, it’s just a terrible time to get a reminder. Since we know some of you are staunchly anti-office while still others are audit clients bemoaning the added difficulty of working with day-drinking auditors, feel free to hash out your feelings in the comments, whatever they may be.

Photo by Thirdman from Pexels

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