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The dangers of working from home for consultants

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Consultants who work too flexibly will likely miss out the learning and networking opportunities that lead to promotion, a senior consultant warns.

Consultants who take too much advantage of flexible working rules are less likely to be promoted over colleagues who spend more time working from the office or at the client’s workplace.

That’s the view of former senior PwC partner Jon Williams, who warns consultants against constantly working remotely because they will miss out on valuable learning and networking opportunities that can only happen in person.

“There are unintended consequences of working more flexibly. There is more limited access to mentors and coaches, less exposure to clients. Your learning slows; it affects your client relationships. All of these factors are likely to slow down your personal learning. You’ll be promoted slower. That’s just reality,” he said.

Mr Williams, who co-founded boutique consultancy Fifth Frame after leaving the big four firm, said the loss of development opportunities would be especially acute for junior consultants.

“People forget that internally it is immensely competitive. If you’re a junior staff member at PwC, you’re not competing with Deloitte staff members, you’re competing with your colleagues for the limited number of promotions a year,” he said.

“I think the trick is that if consulting companies – or any company – tell their people the rules are now different, but then not everyone plays by the new rules, good people are going to find themselves overtaken. There are unintended consequences to every attempt at a positive change [in working conditions].”

Mr Williams, along with senior leaders from Deloitte, Accenture and KPMG, has already told The Australian Financial Review that while there is more opportunity to work flexibly in consulting, the role continues to have a heavy workload driven by client-imposed deadlines.


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