Alan Sugar calls PwC Friday afternoons off a ‘joke‘

Entrepreneur and celebrity Alan Sugar has dismissed PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ decision to give workers Friday afternoons off throughout summer as a ‘bloody joke’.

The big four services giant has extended last year’s summer Fridays scheme to June this year after a survey of employees showed a large majority in favour on the grounds of wellbeing and productivity.

Sugar, whose most recent series of The Apprentice concluded late in March, tweeted in response to the PwC plan: “This is a bloody joke. The lazy gits make me sick. Call me old fashioned but all this work from home BS is a total joke. There is no way people work as hard or productive as when they had to turn up at a work location. The pandemic has had long lasting negative effect.”

PwC has not yet responded to Sugar’s comments, which can be seen as a rather ruder rejection of hybrid working policies than Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg’s recent pronouncements, but others in the sector have not held back. Matt Monette, UK&I country lead at payroll, onboarding and compliance firm Deel, said: “The suggestion that people do not work as hard or are not as productive when they work remotely is simply not true.

“In the UK and across the world we are seeing a fundamental shift in attitudes as workers and employers alike realise that remote and flexible working can in fact boost productivity and commercial performance. Not least because borderless hiring means you really can hire the best people, anywhere. Research we conducted found that 51% of remote workers worldwide believe their productivity has in fact improved.

“Remote working also has demonstrable benefits on wellbeing, work-life balance and salaries. Almost three-fifths of workers told us working remotely has afforded them a higher salary. Mothers also told us that working remotely has been beneficial.”

Sugar is not shy when it comes to tweeting controversial remarks. In addition to regularly trading insults with fellow celebrity Piers Morgan, in 2013 he tweeted a picture of Chinese child crying “because he was told off for leaving production line of iPhone 5”. The message was investigated by the Merseyside police force’s specialist hate crime investigation team, who decided that it should be classed as a “hate incident” although no crime had taken place.

On 20 June 2018, Sugar tweeted a picture of the Senegal national football team edited next to images of fake handbags and sunglasses, claiming that some of the players looked just like hawkers he had encountered in Marbella. He later defended his tweet as a joke before taking it down, after accusations of racism.

Summer working hours were introduced by PwC under The Deal in March 2021. This allowed workers to decide the most effective working patterns depending on what they were focusing on in what PwC called the “empowered day”. This means they can start earlier and finish earlier if they wish and spend an average of 40% to 60% of their time working with colleagues at the office or client sites.

The policy was also aimed at cutting carbon emissions from commuting and workplace facilities.

Meanwhile, rival services giant KPMG has announced it is to give employees – but not partners – in the UK a pay rise of at least £2,000. Some workers will receive a flat pay increase of £2,000, but others will get a £4,000 rise.

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