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Lonely Workaholics at PwC UK Will Have to Find Some Other Place to Go For Christmas

Christmas tree in the dark

Last year, PwC UK chairman Kevin Ellis wrote a lovely advertisement article in The Telegraph letting his people know that if they have literally nothing better to do, PwC employees can spend Christmas at the office. He framed it as a kindness for those who may be lonely — or the opposite, ready to beat the shit out of their roommates after being locked inside with them for so long — and the firm was not going to ask “what the hell are you doing here on Christmas??” No questions, come in or don’t, whatever. He said:

Loneliness was a real issue in lockdown. We gave people as much support as we could, from webcasts with psychologists to free subscriptions to the Headspace mindfulness app, but there’s no substitute for in person contact and having a reason to get out and about in the dark winter months. Other people had the opposite problem to loneliness; living in flatshares with people they had never intended to work alongside day in day out, they needed an escape.

That’s another reason why I’ve said our people can use our offices if they need to, and we won’t be asking questions about why they’re coming in. I’ve been struck by research showing that employers are one of the most trusted elements of society, and this trust is a two-way street – we have to trust employees to make the right decisions.

We aren’t sure how many people took him up on this offer (hopefully none) but we do know that this year, that number will be zero. PwC is turning off the lights and locking the doors. Because the firm wants to encourage people to stay away from the office on the holidays? Not exactly.

Reports BBC, which got the info from The Telegraph which saw an internal memo to PwC UK staff from Ellis:

PwC, which employs about 24,000 people, will shut its main London office from 23 December to 3 January, as well as some smaller sites.

Its chairman Kevin Ellis said having all offices open over the festive period “doesn’t make sense at a time of energy scarcity”

You see, there’s a bit of an energy crisis across the pond and Ellis says PwC UKers wanted the firm to “do our bit to reduce energy consumption.”

“Office life is hugely important to our culture and business,” he said. “But having all our offices open over the holiday period doesn’t make sense at a time of energy scarcity.”

The soon-to-be dark PwC office at Embankment Place is one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. In 2014, it was the greenest building in the world. From an old Guardian article:

During the work, 95% of materials were sourced responsibly and 96% of construction waste was diverted from landfill.

The result is a building with Environmental Performance Certificate A and a BREEAM score of 96.31% – surpassing all others internationally. Today the building emits 40% less carbon than one typical of its size; and 20% of heat and 60% of its energy needs are produced on-site [using recycled waste vegetable oil that is collected and refined locally].

Estimates suggest a utility bill saving of £250,000 a year, but PwC forecasts more: electricity (-221%); gas (-11%); and water (-33%).

For those lucky few who absolutely need to go into the office for whatever, workspace will be available at PwC’s other London office, More London as well as some of the firm’s 19 regional offices.

PwC to shut offices for two weeks to save energy [The Telegraph]