PwC staff hit back at Alan Sugar 'lazy' jibe

24 May 2022 3 min. read
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British entrepreneur Alan Sugar has struck a nerve with employees of PwC, after the Apprentice host branded them “lazy gits” for adopting new flexible working patterns. PwC itself did not responded, however several PwC employees took to LinkedIn to weigh in on the “old fashioned” and “out of touch” business magnate.

At the start of May, Big Four professional services firm PwC informed its staff they could finish work early on Fridays over the summer, assuming they get their work done. This would enable some 22,000 workers across the UK to knock off at lunchtime through the summer, a move which PwC expected its employees to benefit from.

Considering the advisory and auditing giant piloted the policy in 2021, it’s conceivable that the company has already seen the benefits such a policy yields on staff resilience – and subsequently productivity. Despite having no such evidence to back his own opinions up, however, this did not stop Amstrad founder Alan Sugar from bad-mouthing the plans.

PwC staff hit back at Alan Sugar 'lazy' jibe

Initially this saw the popular television villain unleash a stream of pearl-clutching outrage on social media platform Twitter. The Apprentice star tweeted that PwC’s idea of flexible working on Fridays was “a bloody joke” before branding the firm’s staff as “lazy gits”. Arguing that there was “no way people work as hard or productive as when they had to turn up at a work location” Sugar added that the “long lasting negative effect” of the pandemic that is home working was “BS” and “a total joke”.

Sugar began his closing caveat with “Call me old fashioned”;  a challenge that a number of staff from PwC rose to. As reported by accounting news outlet, several senior leaders at the firm did indeed label Sugar, 75, “old fashioned”.

Richard Osborne, a Senior Executive Reward Manager at PwC took to LinkedIn to suggest Sugar’s post “shows how out of touch you are with the modern working world and your lack of knowledge about what PwC are doing.” Rebutting the claim that taking time of was “lazy”, Osborne noted that the “Work from home BS” Sugar took such exception to “has meant that many of us have been far more productive than we were pre-pandemic” – a phenomenon which has been quantified across multiple industries since 2020 – and concluded Sugar’s attacks were “at best childish”.

Another, Omair Qureshi – a Senior Associate, General Counsel with PwC – added “you’re not just old fashioned, but also an 80’s era leader” who failed to recognise that the demands of the job mean many supposedly “lazy” consultants complete work outside working hours “when required”. Qureshi suggested this saw staff going “beyond expectations” from home, something that Sugar would be unlikely to complain about.

At the same time, PwC is conscious in the current labour market that it needs to meet with demands of the workforce if it wants to keep top talent in its offices at all. The government stopped advising people to work from home due to Covid-19 in January 2022, but many companies have continued to offer flexible or hybrid working to their staff, as amid a shortage of talent firms see it as a means to compete with each other for workers, offering better pay or perks.