Young Staff Need to Be in the Office Because of AI, Says PwC's UK Boss

Generative AI is handling tasks that junior staff used to "cut their teeth on," so face-to-face time is important, according to Kevin Ellis, the chair of PwC UK.

Bloomberg News

January 17, 2024

2 Min Read
PwC building

(Bloomberg) — Junior staff should spend more time in the office to get quicker promotions, the UK boss of accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers said, as AI is poised to take on routine tasks traditionally given to younger workers.

Generative AI is removing "tasks that in the past our more junior staff trained and cut their teeth on," Kevin Ellis, the chair of PwC UK, said during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Without those tasks, "you've somehow got to get people through the career path faster," he added.

"It's a lot more face-to-face time being important and a lot more developing," Ellis said. "So you have to get people in the office more working together."

Companies have been trying to convince staff to spend more time in the office, with surveys last year showing that managers would prefer less remote working while employees are keen to maintain habits formed during the pandemic. Ellis was adamant that younger staff in particular should avoid the temptation of working from home.

"If you're asking me my opinion on how you succeed in your career," he said, "I'd be in the office four to five days a week."

His comments came as PwC released a report showing that British companies are adopting AI more rapidly than their international peers. The survey of more than 4,600 global CEOs found that 42% of UK bosses said they had implemented the technology in the last year, compared with 32% globally.

Related:What the AI Adoption Surge Means for IT Skill Development

Ellis said that in the audit sector, AI would likely mean the end of charging clients for work by the hour. "Outcome-based fees and effectively licensing and charging for tech and tech assets will become more important," he said.

PwC's survey also showed that British CEOs are far more positive about the global economy than domestic growth. Six in 10 expect an improvement in the global economy, while fewer than four in 10 said the same about UK output.

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