Long post, but hear me out: There have been a lot of WFH-based debates this past week. The reasons for or against it have almost universally been focused on the consulting way of life, a shift in WLB, and efficiency. But as someone who left consulting a year ago for industry, I want to suggest that most people aren’t thinking thinking broadly enough. I want to posit that the pandemic is to consulting what Uber was to the taxi industry: a major disruptor that can’t be effectively rolled back.

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I feel bad for the young consultants who won’t really experience the Mon-Thu week after week travel, the dinners, the hotels, points, the feeling of wrapping up work on the flight back home on Thursday and heading straight to a bar with friends. The occasional Friday’s at the office full of coffee runs, lunches and happy hour. Not to mention the free vacations and upgrades. It really made the industry worth it for me when growing up. Sorry folks, I hope you enjoy the seldom travel regardless. It won’t be zero.

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Or... OR... some of us are 24 and want a workplace culture with happy hours and perks before we have kids and want to wfh forever.

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ACN not mad at OP - mad at the situation.

Those who are advocating for a return to normalcy are complaining about how talent development is more difficult, and how some facets of consulting require more energy now that you aren’t gathered around a table at the client site. A handful of people are brave enough to admit that the main thing they miss is the client-funded dinners and hospitality/airline points. But from a client perspective: we oftentimes purchase a firm fixed price end result. The consulting efficiencies and talent development mean nothing to me whatsoever. I hire a B4 for a specific outcome and it’s up to them to deliver. And now that I can do that without a 15% set aside for travel, I’m not going back. A lot of you also fail to recognize that for you to return to “normal”, we have to first return to “normal”. And there is SUBSTANTIALLY more pushback on the industry side to get asking folks back into the office. Virtually every company has been forced to invest, modernize, and re-baseline around a mobile-first methodology. We aren’t going all the way back. This way has some kinks to be worked out, but we are saving a fortune, some people have relocated to where they actually want to live, and overhead will plummet when we downsize office space accordingly. For you to return to my conference rooms, I first have to get my teams to return. And we don’t want to. All of this is to say that I am interested to see how consulting adapts to this new normal. I see a bunch of senior folks, who have invested a ton of their money in a business that changed overnight. You may have a harder time selling the consulting meat-grinder of a lifestyle to new college grads now that client-funded perks are drying up (though I doubt it). A lot of your mid-level talent is cool with this new normal because it’s affords them more time for family (let’s not forget that WLB was the main thing pushing people out of consulting at the manager level before this pandemic). But the consulting sacred cows of building client relationships by show of force and “random” client drive-buys is over, and you are having a hard time figuring out how to maintain your status quo in this new environment. A large part of what defines “normal” is going to be driven by client demand, whether you like it or not. And we aren’t paying 15% project costs for Accenture to offset their low pay with per diems, or B4 teams to pack a conference room with freshly-graduated slide-aligners and pretend that equals value-add. So what is consulting going to do to adapt?

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One thing I would note is that all of the consulting firms are making big pushes into tech/data science/etc. After having interviewed hundreds of potential data scientists I don't think many saw travel as a plus. I'm not sure less travel is bad for the industry and I suspect you will still have local offices. I'd wager that industry teams will become location specific and that's where the mentoring will happen. Maybe not the best example given their collapse but i don't believe the people at monitor traveled much below manager. Does LEK travel much?

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I’ll miss the points and the status but I’ll be honest, it’s a massive comp cut for me. Instead of staying in the consulting world now, I’ll take that job that pays $5k more because at the end of the day, it’s all about the cash. With consulting, earning points on a $150-300/night hotel and paying with the hotel branded credit card, it wasn’t unheard of to earn enough points to stay for 5 days in the Maldives or Bora Bora in 3-5 months.. Then the air line status and global upgrades - flying J ORD-CPT for for $550 was a steal. I’ll never get a business class seat at that cost with earning ever again. In regards to my employer, they don’t care anyways. Received promotion to manager last cycle - raise was 4.8%. That’s something terrible.

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Yeah we’re not traveling like that ever again.

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Big oof. I joined consulting partly because of the traveling lifestyle. It seems like I’m never gonna experience that ☹️

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You won’t if SM has his way.

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I always saw travel as a necessary evil. Even more now that I have little kids. I hope we figure out how to keep adapting and how to help our clients work effectively in remote / hybrid settings as another revenue stream. Consulting will be fine as long as there are important business problems to solve. I trust that we can adapt faster than many of our clients can and we’ll continue to thrive. But yeah... if you got into this business for the opportunity to spend your Monday-Thursday somewhere other than your home, the value prop is a whole lot worse now.

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I agree with everything you said, OP and I think it’s likely this is the case moving forward

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