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PricewaterhouseCoopers Says Most U.S. Employees Can Now Live Anywhere

Accounting and consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP says most of its U.S. employees can now live anywhere in the country, in the latest sign that the pandemic is disrupting traditional working arrangements in a variety of white-collar roles .

PwC said it will give its roughly 40,000 customer-facing employees in the United States the ability to work remotely from a continental United States site of their choice. Employees who choose such a role will primarily perform their work from home, but may need to visit a customer site or company office from time to time.

Salary will be determined based on the geography of the employee, a PwC spokeswoman said, and therefore those who move to a lower-cost area could have their pay affected. The company has dozens of offices in the United States with its main headquarters in New York City.

Tim Ryan, U.S. president and senior partner at PwC, said in a spring 2021 interview that there is a compelling reason for companies to evolve their workplaces, if only to remain attractive as ’employer. “The talent has a choice of where they go,” he said.

PwC’s new policy is designed to give more flexibility to existing employees and to help the company attract new employees, but it also reflects the growing acceptance of remote working in the corporate sphere, even for those working remotely. professionals who interact widely with clients. Before the pandemic, consultants, auditors and tax specialists often spent much of their time on the road, visiting clients’ offices.

PwC employs approximately 55,000 people in the United States, including support staff who work in human resources, marketing or other functions. Many of these staff already had flexible and remote working arrangements. It’s unclear how many customer-facing employees will choose to work remotely, although PwC expects to have a clearer picture later this month, a spokesperson said.

A number of employers, especially in the tech sector, have announced more flexible employment policies in recent months. Facebook Inc.

told his employees in June that he would expand eligibility for remote work to all levels of the company, including early-career employees and junior engineers. Those who weren’t given permission to stay away should enter the office at least 50 percent of the time, the social media giant said at the time.

Employers such as the online real estate company Zillow Group Inc.,

cloud storage company Dropbox Inc.

and others said the vast majority of employees can work remotely. Alphabet Inc.

Earlier this year, Google said it plans to allow about a fifth of its employees to work remotely all the time and another fifth to change office locations. Beyond technology, companies like insurer Allstate Corp.

have decided that most of its roles can be performed remotely or on a hybrid basis.

Employees have indicated that they want more choice in the way they work, although not all workers are willing to give up their desks. In a survey of 1,000 American adults this summer commissioned by insurer Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., 41% of those polled said they were anxious to get back to the office. But an additional 29% of those polled said that while they were keen to interact with their colleagues, they would prefer to work from home or in a hybrid approach. Ten percent of respondents said they were uncomfortable returning to the office in any capacity.

In major cities, office occupancy has risen slightly in recent weeks, although it remains well below pre-pandemic levels. Offices in 10 major U.S. cities were only 34.4% occupied in the week ending Sept. 22, according to Kastle Systems, a security company that tracks access card swipes in buildings at across the United States. A number of companies have pushed back office return dates to 2022..

As more and more companies work remotely at least part of the time, the role of the office is also changing. Workers who have returned to the office in recent weeks say they often schedule back-to-back meetings with co-workers, or use the spaces as a chance to meet and socialize with their peers, saving concentrated work for the home.

At Intellum Inc., an Atlanta-based company that makes education software, many company employees were working remotely even before the pandemic, and the company has continued to hire remote workers across the country. Chip Ramsey, CEO of Intellum, said one of the keys to making a remote culture work is to bring all employees together in person once a year.

“It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. When we get together, we don’t even really work. We get together and hang out together, and we kind of have fun, ”Mr. Ramsey said. “We’re talking a little bit about work, but it just creates a different level of bonding that can really get us through the whole year.”

Remote work, hybrid work and the new office

Write to Chip cutter at chip.cutter@wsj.com

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