Someone tweeted this to us yesterday and the topic looked so familiar we got confused, it seemed exactly like this story from last June (because who looks at publication dates right?). The tweet:
What a coincidence that AI is going to lead to the things executives wanted to do anyway, like mass layoffs and forcing people back into the office pic.twitter.com/Ev0FdPYpZW— McRib Hard Seltzer (@kleib323) January 16, 2024
And this is from “PwC Chair Basically Threatens AI Will Replace You If You Don’t Come Into the Office” published June 5, 2023:
For two years now, PwC UK chairman Kevin Ellis has been trying to get people back into the office. In 2021, he said he wanted to “create a buzz around returning to the office,” luring his people back with the promise of human contact we were all starved for in 2020.
When “having to see other people” didn’t work to get people flocking back to the office, he said this to The Telegraph:
Kevin Ellis, chairman of PwC, said the popularity of AI software will drive employees to abandon working from home as they want to “differentiate themselves from a robot”.
During a livestream event on AI technology for 25,000 of his staff last week, Mr Ellis told workers: “For professional services, where researching and summarising data is a key part of junior roles, AI has the potential to fast-track year one trainees to year three. You’re freeing people up to do more.
He added: “The latest wave of AI will likely bring people back to the office. People are going to want to learn from others face to face, and the best way a human can differentiate themselves from a robot is in person.”
So you can understand why the article Bloomberg published Monday seemed so eerily familiar. Nope, not the same thing, just a rehash of what he said last year. Guess the vague threat isn’t working.
Young Staff Need to Be in the Office Because of AI, Says PwC’s UK Boss
Junior staff should spend more time in the office to get quicker promotions, the UK boss of accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers said, as AI is poised to take on routine tasks traditionally given to younger workers.
Generative AI is removing “tasks that in the past our more junior staff trained and cut their teeth on,” Kevin Ellis, the chair of PwC UK, said during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Without those tasks, “you’ve somehow got to get people through the career path faster,” he added.
“It’s a lot more face-to-face time being important and a lot more developing,” Ellis said. “So you have to get people in the office more working together.”
“If you’re asking me my opinion on how you succeed in your career,” he said. “I’d be in the office four to five days a week.”
Only five? That’s not very high performer of you, Kev.
As we pointed out last time Kevin vaguely threatened AI would replace you if you don’t show your face around the office enough, he started at PwC back in 1984. Microsoft Excel wasn’t even on the market yet. Do you reckon there was some old timer in his office who told young staff they should keep paper spreadsheets and ledgers to differentiate themselves from people using computerized ones?
Unless you’re on the partner track, who cares. Don’t let this guy bully you into the office five days a week.