PwC to complete major office move to Merchant Square by mid-summer

PwC has said it is not scaling down on its 200,000 sq ft offices in Merchant Square, but rethinking how they will work for its staff..
Ryan McAleer

PWC is set to complete the move to its new 200,000 sq ft headquarters in Belfast in mid-summer, as the professional services giant states it is not scaling down its office footprint in the city, but rethinking how it will work.

A total of 2,300 staff will be based in the Merchant Square building, but PwC’s new flexible working policy and 24/7 office opening hours is expected to help facilitate social distancing.

PwC announced a new flexible working policy three weeks ago that allows staff to choose their own working patterns.

But the professional service group will still require employees to spend 40 to 60 per cent of their time in the office or at client sites.

The transfer from Waterfront Plaza represents one of the north’s biggest ever office moves.

The move followed the significant expansion of PwC’s local workforce, which has tripled from 800 to 2,300 in five years.

The company has leased all nine floors of the refurbished office building, which was last month acquired by a Saudi investment fund in an £87 million deal, the biggest ever office deal of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Merchant Square was originally designed to accommodate up to 3,000 staff.

Rather than scale back its pre-covid plans for the 200,000 sq ft of offices, the professional services group said it is reassessing how the space will work for its people.

Kevin MacAllister, PwC regional market leader, said: “As we start to come out of one of the most challenging times we’ve ever experienced, people will need more than a desk to return to.

“As we see with PwC’s new deal for our people, we’re rethinking what offices mean to people, understanding what they need for the future and we believe prioritising mental health is business-critical.”

Among the new developments is a 3,000 sq ft Giant’s Causeway themed well-being zone, that will offer meditation pods, GP services and exercise classes.

PwC’s commitment to Merchant Square comes as a new survey suggests one-in-four people hope to work from home permanently once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The new research from Deloitte found 42 per cent of workers hope to do their jobs from home twice a week or more in future.

Just 28 per cent said they don’t ever plan on working from home once lockdown restrictions have lifted, down from 50 per cent who said the same in March 2020.

The survey involved 1,248 people aged 16-75 across the UK, including Northern Ireland.

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