Modern Accounting Firm Offices Sport Fancy Coffee, Nap Rooms, But Cling to Hoteling
Big accounting firms are becoming known for their swanky offices. How else will they woo the best and brightest campus hires unless run-of-the-mill abstract art is hanging on the wall? If you’re on the tax team (something I didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing), enjoy the lap of luxury every day since you’re tethered to […]
All Work-Life Balance Initiatives in the Accounting Profession Are Doomed
The concept of work-life balance in the accounting profession is well documented on Going Concern. I wanted to discuss why all work-life balance initiatives in the accounting profession will ultimately fail. I was at a conference last month and the MC Chris Helder, explained an interesting concept which I have illustrated below:
Millennials Just Want Some Peace and F’n Quiet at Work Already
Among the many stereotypes thrust upon Millennials is their overwhelming desire to be collaborative. For Millennial begrudgers, the sight of a chattering team of 20/30-somethings is like fingernails on a chalkboard. However! A recent survey from Oxford Economics found that actually Millennials would like everyone to buzz off so they could get some work done: […]
Reminder: Please Take Vacation So You Don’t Die
Grant Thornton recently offered its employees unlimited vacation time, which is a problem. The worry –- as Caleb is right to note — is that GT employees will take less PTO than before. If GT really got serious about employee health, and forced people to take vacation, they wouldn’t be the first place to consider […]
Life at Deloitte Can Result in the Occasional Occupational Hazard
Smoking in the stairwell, again? Yup, been out of the office too long…locked in the stairs bc I forgot my badge on my desk #helpme — Life at Deloitte (@lifeatdeloitte) September 18, 2013
Let’s Discuss: Big 4 Bullies
Yes, our last two posts are stark reminders that we are smack dab in the middle of performance evaluation season. It can be a stressful time of year because you'll be forced to reflect on things that you'd rather forget. Often times what you'd like to forget is some of the people you've had to work […]
PwC’s New Los Angeles Office to Have Walking Workstations That Will Mostly Collect Dust
PwC is moving into some new office space in Los Angeles next spring and, naturally, everyone is pretty stoked. There's nothing like trading in your taupe cubicle walls for some new taupe cubicle walls. But with any luck, the bathrooms will be equipped with those toilets that sound like a jet engine when they're flushed. […]
Are KPMG Chicago’s New Digs a Little Kramped?
Last week, we learned that KPMG was the latest accounting firm to be apple of Rahm Emanuel's eye. The House of Klynveld is hiring 500 new employees over the next 5 years in Chicago and they also unveiled their new digs and plans to invest $165 million at the Aon Center. It was a pretty […]
Does Eating Hours Win at Grant Thornton?
As we trudge towards busy season, there are certain things that everyone gets a little anxious about. Like not seeing the sun for three months. Like putting on an extra 15-20 pounds because you’re stuffing your face with takeout three nights (minimum) a week. Oh! and then there’s the hours. Right, the hours.
For those of you t awhile, you know how the game works. Do you really spend 14 hours a day staring at a spreadsheets, slapping together financial puzzles without nary a drop in your production? Obviously not. Some of you take smoke breaks. Some of you have the audacity to take a lunch hour. Some of you drop by this fine publication to keep yourself abreast of the latest haps in accounting world (and leave the page open all day). Some of you, on average, spend 15-30 minutes watching your your cubicle crush from afar thinking that you’ll just mosey over and say “What’s up? Numbers, huh?” only to snap out of your daydream.
All this non-billable time accumulates into a decent portion of your day. Accordingly, you work a little later to make up for your lack of productivity, charge the appropriate hours (based on your increasingly tighter budget) and you call it a day.
For those newer to the game, you may look up at the clock, note that it’s 6 pm and you think to yourself, “What did I accomplish today?” The answer: not much. But since there’s not charge code for “Fucking Around – General” and slamming it all to an administration code isn’t such a good move, you slip it into a code for a client that you’re supposedly working on. No problem, right?
Well, your managers and partners might have a problem. They look at the billed hours and then try to gauge what your progress is. If there are hundreds of hours and you have jack squat to show for it, people are going to be pissed.
With all that in mind, I’ll share a query from a reader out of Grant Thornton’s New York office:
I would like to know how wide-spread “Eating Hours” is at GT (NYC).
You are put on a project, its a lot of work, and as time progress more and more work piles on you. You end up putting a lot of hours. The manager/partner says that hours will not be a problem, and that you should bill all hours worked.
When the project is just about over, after you had worked tons of hours, when you are least expect it, they pull you into a meeting and admonishing you that there was no way that you worked those hours. (Basically calling you a thief to your face).
After that meeting, you are told to adjust all hours over and above the budgeted 35-40 hours work week.
Even though I am not an hourly employee, I do feel robbed in two ways. First, I can’t really enjoy the accomplishment of the project because I feel so cheated, unappreciated and disrespected by this unethical behavior. Additionally, I feel stress because how can I be expected to meet the already unrealistic utilization goals when those scumbags make me eat hours?
Okay, let me say first that I do not doubt this person’s account of being jerked around by a manager or partner with regard to hours. However, it’s a little bit unbelievable if this meeting where the de-pantsing occured came without any warning. Most of your superiors – whether they are partners, managers, SAs, whatever – are not completely unreasonable people. They don’t all of sudden turn on a dime and say, “Everything I told you was a lie. You should have known that you shouldn’t have been billing all those hours.” If that is the case, then you work for assholes.
Hopefully, if eating hours is expected of you, they tell you up front. I had former colleagues that were on engagements like this where a Senior Manager simply let them know exactly how many hours they were expected to bill but it was pretty obvious that they were going to be working far more than that to get the job done. It’s a fucked up equation to be sure, but at least you know what you’re up against. This has nothing to do with firms or offices but rather the people running the engagement.
As for GTNYC, it’s pretty tough to know how widespread the practice of eating hours is. How widespread is the alcoholism? Or doucebaggery? It’s not quantitative. But our tipster is still concerned:
I have spoken to many of my friends at other Big 4, at regional firms, and at smaller firms and no one had experienced it as bad as some of us here in GT (NYC).
Fine. But you’re very small cross-section of a huge population. Maybe you were just on a couple of bad engagements with bad partners/managers. It happens. Believe it.
For the Purple People Eaters out there, is eating hours at GT a problem? Does Vault have it all wrong? Eating hours definitely doesn’t win, but does it pay? Discuss below.
PwC’s New Swanky London Location Has Those Left at the Old Dump Mad with Jealousy
P. Dubs’ “More London” or “MoLo” location is reportedly quite the swinging joint but will only house half of the City’s 11,000 employees. Those left back at the frumpy office aren’t really pleased with this development and the FT reports has caused some to catch a case of “office envy”:
The aesthetic appeal [of the MoLo location] is burnished by eco-friendly credentials. PwC is also backing a nearby bistro and wine bar that will emulate Jamie Oliver by training the homeless. The firm’s staff will also be encouraged to use it. The zeitgeistiness of it all is too much for some of those stuck at PwC’s dowdier offices in Embankment Place, near Charing Cross. But relief could be at hand. [Chairman Ian] Powell revealed that the firm is in talks to redevelop the old site to give it a bit more pizzazz.
PwC Provides Background, Q&A in Response to Reports on Shanghai Associate’s Death
It’s been just over two weeks since the death of Angela Pan, an audit associate in PwC’s Shanghai office. One report of her death have quoted doctors stating that “Based on her symptoms and her low white blood cell count, it’s reasonable to conclude that overwork led to a weakened immune system, which makes her more vulnerable to infections.” It was also reported she told a friend she was working 18-hour days and about 120 hours a week prior to her sickness and death. However, Shanghaiist (yes, that’s the Gothamist for Shanghai) published a portion of a statement from PwC that stated that Angela died from viral encephalitis not acute cerebral meningitis as had been reported. An internal email from PwC in China found its way into our inbox late last week and it seems to echo the press release and provides other details.
[Ed. note: the second paragraph included HR and press contacts for those needing them so I’ve omitted those here. It did state that the information should only “be communicated verbally.”]
The date on the email was April 20th and the Shanghaiist article is dated April 15th, so whether this communiqué provides additional details, it isn’t entirely clear. The most confusing statement for me in this email is “as a sign of respect to Angela and her family, we have made a decision not to clarify the misreporting in the media at this time.” Seems to me that the respectful thing would be to correct the “misrepresented” facts if they are in fact correct. Of course this is happening in China where we can only assume what qualifies as a “respectful” action might differ from what is respectful in the U.S. Regardless, it’s terribly unfortunate that a young woman’s death had to serve as a reminder for everyone to take a closer look at their own health and behavior, as well as how culture and working environment may cause some to feel pressure to be at work when they shouldn’t.
Busy Season Problem Du Jour: The Kleptomaniac Co-worker
Today’s round of minor irritations from our British sister from another mister:
Further to the “snorting employee” post, any ideas on how to deal with a colleague who goes into my desk drawers to get labels and paper clips and the like, when I am actually sitting at my desk?
They are a relatively new employee and I have been showing them some aspects of how to do their job. It is really my own fault for not stopping them when they started doing it, but now it really irritates me and I’m not sure of the most painless way to deal with it other than to just tell them to stop and use their own drawers! I hate any kind of confrontation, especially since we have to sit next to each other.
Any diplomatic ideas?
I don’t know about you all but diplomacy just doesn’t fly over here in States, so an accounting firm version of the Bush Doctrine seems to be the way to go. Let’s kick a few ideas around shall we?
When your fellow cube farmer comes digging around your drawer do you:
A) Allow them to find the item they need and walk back to their desk, wait five minutes, then proceed to their workspace and violently snatch said item off their desk/out of their hand?
B) Calmly get up with your beverage of choice in hand, walk over to the offender’s cube and pour the contents of your drinking receptacle on their computer?
C) Belch in their face?
D) Do a full spin in your aeron chair and crush their hand/wrist/lower arm in the drawer?
E) Your ideas
Busy Season Problem of the Day: Approaching a Co-worker About Their Disgusting Bodily Functions
Over at our British sister site, AccountingWEB UK, the following problem was put to the group:
We have an employee at the practice where I work who constantly makes a pretty horrible snorting sound with the back of her throat. It happens all year but is worse when she has a cold, which she does at the moment.
Several colleagues have asked me to have a word with the partners to ask them to say something to her about it because they find it so distracting and even nauseating. Incidentally it’s an open plan office so it’s not like people can avoid hearing it.
So my question is, if I did have a word with the partners, is there anything they could actually do about it? And if not, should I tell them anyway just to get it recorded and so that I can tell my colleagues that I have had a word? Nobody feels close enough to her to talk to her quietly themselves, which would have been my instinctive first suggestion.
Okay, so after getting over the weirdness of idea of “recording” of this conversation just to prove it to your co-workers, we admit that this is serious work environment issue. We’ve all been there. That certain someone who, for whatever reason, feels necessary to dig deep in the far ranges of their physiology to get some phlegm out but just can’t seem to EXCUSE THEMSELVES to do so. Or see a doctor, because you know, there might be something seriously wrong that COULD KILL YOU.
And it doesn’t stop with the throat clearing. What about the the co-worker that sounds like Tony Soprano when they eat?
What about the dude that’s obviously enjoying those four to six sodas a day because you can hear him slurping from three cubicles away? And then there’s the subsequent burping. And not like frat boy burping; we’re talking about the gas that he tries to internalize quietly but it’s actually more annoying and disgusting than if he belched the entire alphabet. YOU FEEL ME?
So what to do? Well, first off, despite your desire to FLIP OUT and scream at the offender(s) in question, they probably aren’t even aware that they are causing you to throw up in your mouth a little bit every day. But you certainly don’t want to embarrass the person (maybe some of you do) and buying noise-canceling headphones for the entire office isn’t really economically feasible, so what’s the solution? Here are some initial thoughts:
1. Slipping he or she some Emily Post.
2. Quit your job.
3. Humming at audible levels. (We realize the risks associated with this approach but desperate times, amiright?)
4. Hiring a “personnel monitor” whose sole task is to quietly address these issues with the offender and to issue written warnings, fines and punishments depending on the repulsion level, number of individual co-worker complaints and simultaneous offenses (e.g. slurping and burping).
Seems like a good start. Now it’s your turn.