Significant investments of time and money go into establishing offices overseas, representing a significant opportunity cost for international companies. PwC China’s June 2 official launch of the PwC Lab in Beijing demonstrates PwC’s continued investment in the Chinese economy and willingness to develop its operations despite the interruptions caused by the pandemic and fluctuations in the world economy. PwC (also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers), a multinational professional services network of firms headquartered in London, UK, is also one of the worldwide “Big Four” accounting firms. The new facility will allow PwC staff in Beijing to serve the local market in an advanced, adaptable, environmentally friendly, and worker friendly environment.
This facility integrates insights gleaned from the fight against COVID-19. It emphasizes flexibility for employees rotating between working in the office and at home. Reduced concentrations of employees reduce the risk of widespread infection. The possibilities for flexible allocations of space for large meetings or small workstations mean that the space available can be used with high efficiency. In addition to the advanced systems in place to reduce power consumption, flexible office space usage translates into smaller office size requirements, and therefore reduced demand for electricity and heating. The pandemic-forced demand for remote working arrangements accelerates the development of PwC’s “Smart at Work” system of digital office tools which integrates the physical office space and the digital workspace used by remote workers.
The establishment of the PwC Lab in Beijing extends what PwC China has already been doing during the pandemic. On February 18, 2020, during the most intense period of epidemic prevention in China, PwC China signed a strategic cooperation service framework agreement with the Shaanxi Xixian New Area Silk Road Economic Belt Energy and Finance Trade Zone. Any contract signed represents months or years of prior negotiation and communication. Although the outbreak of COVID-19 limited the possibilities for parties to the contract to meet face to face, they took the chance to move the signing to the “cloud” to stay on track with business plans and advance innovations at the same time.
In December 2019, PwC China also opened two new facilities, one in Shenzhen and one in Zhuhai, involving the implementation of high technology to facilitate business value development in China. The continued opening of facilities all over China reveals PwC’s long-term commitment to the Chinese market and its anticipation of future cooperation with increasing numbers of partners. Although the pandemic disrupts or halts the majority of business operations for every company around the world, when companies continue to strategize and form partnerships, it improves the chances for China and the world to come out stronger on the other side.