Accenture to extend home working in Italy beyond COVID emergency

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Visitors look at devices at Accenture stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

MILAN (Reuters) - Consulting and outsourcing services provider Accenture Plc said on Monday it would extend home working for its employees in Italy beyond the coronavirus emergency.

The pandemic has caused a rapid shift in working habits worldwide, with many major companies repeatedly extending the home working policies put in place last year as infections show no sign of abating and both workers and employers experience benefits.

Accenture's 17,000 Italy-based workers will be able to work remotely three days a week, up from two pre-pandemic, it said in a statement, rising to five in case of special health needs.

Currently 98% of its workforce is working from home, although staff have been able to do so to some degree since 2009, the group added.

"For years we've been moving towards a more elastic and digital business environment and these past months have shown us how (this) can become a new standard," Head of Human Resources in Italy Anna Nozza said.

With this shift in mind, Accenture said it would start rethinking the layout of its offices and press on with its 2019 plan of refurbishing its spaces in Italy, at a total investment of 360 million euros ($434.41 million).

Last week Unilever said office workers would be largely working from home during the first three months of the year and would then move to a hybrid model splitting their time between the office and home.

(Reporting by Cristina Carlevaro, editing by Giulia Segreti and Kirsten Donovan)