KPMG UK staff to work in office just two days a week after pandemic

Accounting and consultancy group KPMG has told its 16,000 UK staff that they will have to work only an average of two days in the office each week from next month, as the firm revealed its plans for a post-pandemic hybrid working model. Read more: KPMG UK staff to work in office just two days a week after pandemic

KPMG UK staff to work in office just two days a week after pandemic

Accounting and consultancy group KPMG has told its 16,000 UK staff that they will have to work only an average of two days in the office each week from next month, as the firm revealed its plans for a post-pandemic hybrid working model.

Under the new initiative, which the company has called the “four-day fortnight”, staff will spend the remaining days working either from home or at client sites.

In addition, over the summer, staff will also be given an extra 2.5 hours off each week “to give people time away from work and to re-energise”.

All staff will be given an extra day off on 21 June, the date the government plans to end all social distancing restrictions – which many see as marking the end of the pandemic.

The new KPMG working arrangements were unveiled as Google said it expected 20% of its staff to work from home permanently in the future. The search engine group said it anticipated 60% of workers being office-based, 20% working in new office locations and 20% staying at home.

Those proposals are in stark contrast to the approach taken by investment bank Goldman Sachs. On Tuesday, Goldman moved in the opposite direction, telling its US and UK bankers to prepare to return to offices next month.

Jon Holt, chief executive at KPMG UK, said: “We trust our people. Our new way of working will empower them and enable them to design their own working week. The pandemic has proven it’s not about where you work, but how you work.”

The company, from which UK chairman Bill Michael resigned in February after it emerged he told staff to “stop moaning” about the pandemic, is also investing £44m this year to transform its offices into “collaborative spaces and invest in new home-working technology for staff”.

David Solomon, the Goldman Sachs chief executive, who has described home working as an “aberration”, told UK workers to plan to return from 21 June. US staff will begin a return to office working from 14 June.

In other parts of the world where the pandemic is under control, such as Asia Pacific, most Goldman Sachs staff are already back at their desks.

“We know from experience that our culture of collaboration, innovation and apprenticeship thrives when our people come together,” said Solomon, in a staff memo also signed off by president John Waldron and chief financial officer Stephen Scherr.

“We look forward to having more of our colleagues back in the office so that they can experience that once again on a regular basis.”

While the memo added that staff who wish to continue to work from home should discuss this with their manager, any such requests from the bank’s 6,000 workers in London are unlikely to be well received.

In February, Solomon said the bank needed to “correct” the practice of home working “as soon as possible”, promising it would not become “a new normal”.

Goldman’s working conditions came under scrutiny during the pandemic after junior US analysts compiled a report in which they claimed they were subjected to 100-hour working weeks.

Last week, rival JPMorgan Chase told all its US bankers they should prepare to return to work on a “consistent rotational schedule” by early July, in line with the lifting of pandemic restrictions in many US cities such as the key financial centre of New York.

The memo from Jamie Dimon, chief executive, rather patronisingly added that staff who had forgotten how an office works can begin re-acclimatising themselves to a workplace environment from 17 May.

However, Dimon also said that the US’s largest bank was planning to “significantly” reduce its office space. “For every 100 employees, we may need seats for only 60 on average,” he said.

Financial services firms are taking a variety of approaches to office working in a post-pandemic world.

HSBC, the UK’s biggest bank, is moving to a hybrid model and plans to cut its property footprint by as much as 40% in the long term, and Lloyds Banking Group, the bank with the biggest UK high street presence, has said it will bring in working from home as a permanent lifestyle change, allowing it to cut 20% of its office space.

In March, Nationwide, the UK’s biggest building society, said that its 13,000 staff who do not work in branches would be allowed to work from wherever they wanted.

Jes Staley, the boss of Barclays, which expects to keep a significant number of traders at Canary Wharf in the future, has previously said home working is “not sustainable” for large financial institutions.

Staff in its corporate and investment banking operations in London and New York are expected to return to work from mid-June.

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KPMG UK staff to work in office just two days a week after pandemic

Source : Business Matters More   

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UK car sales rebound after ‘one of darkest years in automotive history’

UK car sales rebounded in April compared with 2020 as England’s Covid lockdown ended and showrooms reopened but the number of new cars rolling out was still substantially lower than the pre-pandemic average. Read more: UK car sales rebound after ‘one of darkest years in automotive history’

UK car sales rebound after ‘one of darkest years in automotive history’

UK car sales rebounded in April compared with 2020 as England’s Covid lockdown ended and showrooms reopened but the number of new cars rolling out was still substantially lower than the pre-pandemic average.

About 141,600 vehicles were sold during the month, according to data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

That total was 30 times higher than in April 2020, when the first national lockdown wiped out 97% of sales and reduced the motor trade to levels not seen since 1946, during rationing and the aftermath of the second world war.

While the comparison with the 2020 closure of every dealership in the country flatters 2021 figures, they remain 13% lower than the 2010-19 monthly average, the SMMT said. It expects 1.86m car sales in 2021, 14% higher than 2020 and slightly better than previous forecasts, thanks to the speed of the UK vaccine programme.

“After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive. “A full recovery for the sector is still some way off but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild.”

Overall, new car registrations for 2021 have reached 567,000. That is still down by almost a third compared with the pre-pandemic average for the first four months but there are hopes that the vaccine combined with savings built up by millions of stay-at-home workers during the coronavirus crisis could unleash some pent-up demand.

Car sales globally were hugely affected by the pandemic but 2020 is also likely to be remembered in the car industry as the year when electric vehicle sales started to make their mark as stricter EU carbon dioxide emissions regulations kicked in.

However, the share of electric cars dipped in April compared with the first three months of the year. Sales for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles overtook pure battery electric sales, a change that the SMMT said was down to cuts in government grants for electrics. Plug-in hybrids combine an externally rechargeable battery with an internal combustion engine.

Separate data from New AutoMotive, a thinktank on policies to promote electric vehicles, showed that Volkswagen was the biggest seller of pure electric cars during April. The German carmaker has invested billions of euros in launching new electric cars such as the ID3, although battery sales in the UK were still less than a tenth of overall sales.

South Korea’s Kia was the second largest seller of battery electric cars in April, while the US carmaker Tesla, which only makes electric cars, did not make the top 10 because of inconsistent import schedules.

Ben Nelmes, the head of policy at New AutoMotive, said there was a “race for EV market share” that would ultimately lead to more choice for consumers hoping to switch.

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UK car sales rebound after ‘one of darkest years in automotive history’

Source : Business Matters More   

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