As we enter a new decade, many companies are changing the way in which they communicate with both staff and clients.
PwC is one of the world’s leading professional services firms, delivering quality in assurance, advisory, and tax services, operating in 157 countries with over 276,000 people. Before the lockdown ensued, PwC had already embraced new, agile ways of working including the introduction of a ‘mobile-only’ policy across its offices, motivated by a review of its regional support in the UK, with landlines being used for reception purposes.
Duncan Bowker, Senior Communications Manager for PwC in the North, explains more about their switch to mobile-only:
What triggered the new ‘mobile-only ’ policy and how did it come about?
We have 10,000 employees based across UK regions, where the trend in recent years is to have fewer but larger regional offices. In 2016 the Leeds office moved to new offices at Central Square and this prompted a decision to look beyond the traditional, both in terms of the office environment and also in terms of telecoms.
The Leeds office was the first PwC office to be ‘mobile-only’, which was very different for the professional services sector. The new office space was open plan, with hot-desking and landlines wouldn’t work in this environment.
What is your definition of a mobile-first culture?
The mobile-first policy means the mobile phone is the first choice of communication for and with our staff. Combined with working more flexibly, it enables a good work-life balance. If there is a downside to no landlines it’s that employees could be considered as ‘always on’ but there is definitely no expectation from the firm that employees are contactable 24/7, far from it – especially now we have moved into the new norm of full remote working. In fact, our culture has meant we’ve fortunately been able to transition seamlessly to this new way of working and literally moved our entire workforce to remote working overnight.
Tell us more about the implementation plan. How did the staff react?
In terms of communicating the changed ways of working, our staff have quickly become accustomed to this. We’ve always given people the trust to work flexibly from wherever they are, while the new office environments have moved with the times, helping us attract the very best talent. It has been refreshing to see the results, with our staff thriving and becoming more efficient and more relaxed and this has stood us in good stead with all the systems in place to deal with remote working during the pandemic.
How did you manage the culture change?
Our Manchester office was the second to trial this policy, but now all PwC offices across the UK are ‘mobile-first’. Today, brands live in people’s pockets and we were well aware of this trend and were also keen to attract and retain fresh new talent, so with this in mind the company created new and engaging office environments where employees would want to come and spend time.
In terms of the process of culture change, a diverse steering group, from new joiners to senior partners, worked together for the past three years, canvassing the opinions and requirements of all staff.