PwC UK published an advertisement article in The Telegraph last week and we found it so moving that we felt compelled to share it all with you post haste.
The letter — penned by PwC UK chairman Kevin Ellis — begins as all corporate letters must since our first COVID Christmas last year: with a big ole shoutout to the Rona:
It’s hard to imagine it was only this time last year that Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. Dubbed V-day, it was a moment of hope. But there was still such uncertainty as to if and when our loved ones might receive their jabs, and the likely effectiveness. A locked-down Christmas lay ahead.
The pandemic is still with us, and we have learnt not to be complacent. Covid has a life of its own and continues to inflict misery on many people.
THANK YOU KEVIN FOR REMINDING US. We nearly put it in the back of our minds for one precious second so we could think about something, anything else for a fleeting moment … but there you are, jabbing it right back front and center. Thanks.
He goes on to mention how we are in a different place from December 2020 (no shit, guy, we are aware the Earth orbits the sun), throws out some encouraging stats on vaccines (please stop using the term V-day, that’s cringe), and peppers it with optimism about eventually finding an extinguisher with which to put out this dumpster fire we still live in. Cool.
But just as he starts talking about how Omicron might ruin all that optimism and the government might have to lock everyone up again just in time to ruin Christmas, he offers a glimmer of hope. Don’t worry. The Queen’s PwC has a solution to being isolated from your family for yet another holiday. Buck up, lonely PwCers, you may not see grandma this year but you can always go into the office!
It is against this backdrop that all our offices across the UK will remain open as they have done since July 2020 for those with a business or personal need to use them.
A business need could include critical audit or deal work. There is no substitute for being with people face to face to test views and make the right judgment calls. Decisions around how much a business is worth or whether its accounts add up are not ones where you want to be second-guessing views on a screen.
I say this respectfully Kevin: FUCK DEAL WORK. People have been increasingly squeezed by the vice grip of circumstances outside of our control for nearly two years now. Let them have Christmas. The world is burning around you and you’re thinking about deal work. Really my guy, read the room.
There isn’t a manual for what work should best be done in person, but we trust our people to make the right decisions and to speak to their teams if they have any doubts.
It’s fair to say the latest restrictions have caused some disappointment for staff – it’s been a long year, everyone’s worked incredibly hard, and people were looking forward to socialising. Any large work events have now been cancelled. Our people have accepted this, but many just miss the camaraderie of office life, particularly near Christmas. Many of our people live on their own, some come from overseas, and with an average age of 31, they want to see friends and colleagues.
In other words, sorry there will be no holiday parties this year guys but you can always come into work! We’d hate for you lonely 29-year-olds to have to — gasp — stay home all by yourself when there’s camaraderie at the office!
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.
You hear that, guys? PwC cares about your mental health. Come into the office, we have bright lights and human interaction.
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.
OK I’m tapping out. This is just too dystopian for me.
I hope the lonely PwCers across the pond take this as an invitation to throw ragers at the office — fully vaccinated and appropriately distanced, of course — because after all, camaraderie is important like Kevin said. Oh wait, PwC UK forbade drinking in the office in 2019. Never mind.