The multinational consulting giant Deloitte is proposing shuttering four office buildings in the U.K. but keeping all staff on work-from-home contracts, the company told ABC News Monday.
The coronavirus pandemic ushered in a sudden, massive work-from-home experiment for much of the private sector. Now more than six months into it, a handful of companies are beginning to permanently reassess their office space needs.
"COVID-19 has fast-tracked our future of work program, leading us to review our real estate portfolio and how we use our offices across the U.K., including London," Stephen Griggs, Deloitte U.K.'s managing partner, told ABC News in a statement. "As a result, we are proposing our Gatwick, Liverpool, Nottingham and Southampton offices will permanently close and the firm is consulting with Deloitte people based out of these offices to move to a permanent homeworking contract."
Deloitte is headquartered in London and is currently the largest professional services firm in the world by revenue. The company did not say how many people this would impact, but Reuters reported these offices accommodate some 500 staff members.
Griggs emphasized that everyone currently employed at these locations will continue to be employed by Deloitte, "and any proposed change is to our 'bricks and mortar,' not our presence in these regions."
"We remain committed to these regional markets and will continue our close relationships with our clients, society partners and communities, just without a physical building," he added.
The move comes as a handful of U.S. firms also announced extended, or even permanent, remote work arrangements -- many of which have been accelerated by the pandemic. Google and Facebook said earlier this year that their offices wouldn't be re-opening until at least July 2021.
Twitter announced in May that it would allow staff to work remote indefinitely, saying the past few months have "proven we can make it work."
As more and more companies similarly prove that it can be done during the COVID-19 crisis, some experts forecast remote work is here to stay.