If you need another example of why public accounting firms get a bad rap for being more concerned about dollar signs and clients than their employees, that they’d rather their capital market servants be billable than healthy—both physically and mentally—look no further than this email sent to Marcum’s New York City employees on March 19 from David Bukzin, the firm’s vice chairman and New York City office managing partner and assurance services leader.
Like most of the largest public accounting firms in the U.S., Marcum has temporarily become a remote workforce because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The firm’s chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Weiner, had originally said the remote work schedule would continue through March 22. But we received a tip yesterday that the firm extended its work-from-home mandate until April 13, when Marcum is planning to re-open its offices.
The tipster said he received two emails yesterday. The first was from Marcum’s head of HR, who is based in New York City. The tipster said:
Work hours are now 40 per week. This was sent FIRM wide. Very positive message.
Here’s the email that HR sent:
The health and safety of our associates remains Marcum’s top priority. As we continue our remote work arrangement, we expect limited impact on our ability to meet the needs of our clients.
As you were informed today, our offices will remain closed through April 12, with the exception of the staff necessary to support our operations.
As a follow up to Jeffrey Weiner’s email, below are some things to think about it:
Billable Hour Requirements — previously communicated weekly requirements of 55+hours are suspended. We encourage you to take the flexibility you need during this time, within reason for your teams, but try to keep your weekly hours to 40.
Daily Time Entry — During this time of year, client-facing associates should be predominately billable with little to no non-billable time. Non-billable time (exclusive of PTO, CPE, etc.) should be limited to high-level administrative tasks such as billing, department meetings, etc. We will continue to actively monitor all time entry on a daily basis. Any unusual patterns will be brought to your attention for follow up, where necessary.
We are all spending less time commuting (or, in fact, no time!), socializing with colleagues, and going out to lunch — typical things for those of us who work in an office setting. While, this is a different message than is normally delivered during busy season, we encourage you to take that extra time that you would have spent commuting, socializing, or going out to lunch, and spend it with your families.
A page has been added to our HR Portal where associates can find information on COVID-19, as well as helpful links and resources.
We are committed to doing all we can to attend to the health and well-being of our associates and doing our part to slow the spread of the virus in our communities, while being available to support you and our clients during these challenging times.
Please reach out to any member of the HR team with questions/concerns.
If I was a Marcum employee, I’d think that was a pretty fair message and pretty positive too. But 20 minutes after the HR email was sent, according to our tipster, Bukzin felt like he had to flex.
Head of NYC and second most powerful person in the firm, only emails NYC employees, saying we are 55, get back to work. That 40 hours, only applied to tax people, which is like 25% of the work force. Not cool David Bukzin.
Here’s the email Bukzin sent:
I wanted to provide a clarification to the earlier e-mail regarding billable hour requirements.
That part of the e-mail was principally meant for certain members of tax department, whose deadlines were deferred, and their busy season will stretch out through Q2.
Many other parts of our practice have not had our deadlines deferred, so we will have to continue to work the 55 hour weeks.
That being said, everyone’s health and well-being is certainly important to us.
LOL. Moving on:
If anyone has any personal needs that impede on their working those hours, please speak with HR, your department PIC or myself.
I hope everyone is feeling they are able to work productively. Thank you for continuing to put forth all of your efforts!
Damn, David, that’s cold-blooded. Stay billable, even during a massive pandemic, my friends.