It’s not just working routines that will feel different for KPMG’s 16,000 colleagues when we are able to safely return to our offices without social distancing requirements. There’ll be a cultural difference too and we intend it to have far-reaching impact.
We have announced that we will be embracing hybrid working. Our people will have the opportunity to tailor their working week to suit the type of work they are doing and their balance of work and home commitments.
We also intend hybrid working to help us to drive broader benefits for both our business and for ambitious people across the country.
We see hybrid working as a once in a generation transformation, not only in the way people interact with their workplace but in the way they approach career opportunities and contribute to businesses – and for value to be recognised somewhat differently.
By being clear that working within KPMG will involve less commuting to offices and less travel to meetings, we want to attract a wider pool of talent than ever before, helping us to be a more diverse and stronger business as a result.
In our markets, from Aberdeen in the North to Plymouth in the South, I am keen that opportunities within KPMG are taken by people who may previously have left us or ruled themselves out of a career with us due to a requirement to commute daily to our offices. Some, on account of choosing to live beyond striking distance of a major city centre, others due to feeling that out of work commitments like childcare couldn’t be balanced with an office-based role; I am excited at the prospect that different conclusions will now be reached.
The demise of presenteeism will correlate with a rise in inclusion. Presenteeism is no longer a unit of value, as this period of enforced working from home has proved beyond doubt that we can rely on valuing our people by their output. Maintaining this through hybrid working should even the playing field for those who seek greater flexibility in their working patterns, making them less visibly different and improving their ability to pursue a successful career.
Hybrid working is also a lever to pull when it comes to ways large employers can support regional economic rebalancing, by becoming geographically agnostic regarding where their talent is based. This can help prevent a London vacuum effect - and the associated stress on the infrastructure of the capital and South East.
If colleagues know they can live and work wherever they wish, just spending time in London as needed or wanted, there will be some redistribution of talent and associated prosperity across the country.
It also stands to change perceptions about the opportunity to pursue a professional services career right up to national (and beyond) leadership positions from the regions. And yes, this is personal, speaking as a Yorkshireman on KPMG’s UK executive team, which I am enjoying contributing to from my home region, albeit in the dreadful circumstances of the pandemic; I won’t go back to travelling south multiple days a week.
Across the business world, when offered fantastic opportunities in organisations with a London powerbase, it’s great to have reason to believe that people from the regions won’t need to contemplate ruling themselves out or relocating.
So, KPMG’s excitement about committing to hybrid working goes far beyond smarter use of our offices and more flexible working patterns for our staff; it will enable us to offer exciting career opportunities to more of the UK’s talent, and to benefit from an increasingly diverse workforce.