Big 4 accountants PwC say moving to a new tech-enabled office in Manchester has resulted in a massive spike in recruitment.

The accountants moved from their offices in Barbirolli Square to four floors of No.1 Spinningfields in Manchester in November 2017 to accommodate staff growth and new technology.

During that time workforce numbers have increased by 30 per cent – with the average age of staff being 27.

Aine McTiernan was speaking at Knight Frank’s ‘Insights from the global workplace’ event on Wednesday (January 30) in partnership with BusinessCloud.

The event heard from Manchester city council leader Sir Richard Leese who told BusinessCloud Manchester is the undisputed tech capital outside of London.

Knight Frank’s global head of occupier research Dr Lee Elliott spoke about the changing role of the workplace and said offices were vital in recruiting and retaining staff.

McTiernan is the scale programmes manager at PwC and works with a number of tech companies.

PwC

She said the move had been transformational and recounted a comment by PwC’s North West regional chairman Iwan Griffiths who said: “We can either be the last office to do it this way or we can be the first office to do it another way.”

McTiernan said: “There were a number of reasons we moved, primarily around staff growth, we knew that we had ambitious growth plans, but also it (was) just no longer fit for purpose as an office when you consider such things like emerging technology.

“We wanted a space that was much more fluid, allowed different lines of service to work together better and was more technology enabled.

“I think certainly it’s really helped us in terms of retention and workforce satisfaction providing staff with a feeling where they had a space they could be really proud of, and a space where they were really happy to come into work.”

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She said the new office at No.1 Spinningfields included a public café and areas where clients and staff could hot desk. Following the move staff partners no longer have their own office.

“Even though we really advocate for flexible working, it’s great to have a space that feels like the business is home,” she said.

“Iwan Griffiths is a really big advocate for Manchester being leading and world class and actually just sticking its neck out and doing things a bit differently.”

The company has taken on around 92,000 sq ft in the building after being in Barbirolli Square for almost 20 years.

She added: “Floor seven is our client space, we call it a work together space. It’s really nice to be able to have clients use it, especially some of the tech start-ups I work with, being able to offer them a facility where you can come and just use our free Wi-Fi, grab a complimentary coffee, or host a meeting in a quiet, professional and private setting.

“I think it’s also just made clients see us in a slightly more friendly, approachable and less informal way, we’re really big on client experience and quality but it’s nice to be able to feel a bit closer to them.

“I like to think that the perception of accountants is fast changing too, partly to do with the nature of our workforces changing.

“We’re having a really big push on tech recruitment, we want people to see us as a different kind of employer.

“I think if we had stayed at Barbirolli Square I don’t think we would have had anything like the collaboration tools we have in the new office, and I think it has given our image a real boost in Manchester, reinforcing the fact that we’re serious about Manchester, we love the city and we want to invest in it.”

Other speakers at the event included Jon Matthews, the director of Jon Matthews Architects; Toby Sproll, director - retail, amenity & community, Bruntwood; and Angela Harrington, Head of Work and Skills, Manchester City Council.