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How do the working hours differ among consulting firms?

Anonymous A asked on Jan 04, 2018 - 6 answers

Hi community,

I'm aware that as a tier1/2 consultant you don't get a 40h week, but I've also heard that in the recent years, consulting firms have realised how important a work-life balance is for the employees. Is that the case in reality and if yes, how does that show? And is there a difference among the tier1/2 companies or are they all the same when it comes to working hours? Maybe one that is known to lower working hours?

I hope you can help me

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replied on Jan 06, 2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years
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Bain, BCG and McKinsey all have initiatives to ensure the wellbeing and satisfaction of their teams. One of the dimensions that is closely monitored is hours.

Number of working hours is not the only dimension and not the most important one because it is not the one with the highest correlation with work satisfaction among consultants at those firms (the ones that have the highest correlation are: how fullfilling is the module/project, how much manager/client values work that has been done).

That said, in US I feel Bain is the one with the reputation of having, on average, better working hours among the top three. Keep in mind that within each firm there is a lot of variability of how many hours you work based on:

-office you work with (some offices have longer hours than others)

-client you work for (some clients work their consultants more because they know what they can get)

-team you work with

-type of project you work on

On average expect to work 55-60 hours a week. A relaxed project can be even 45. An intense project goes into the 75-80 with peaks of 100 hours in key weeks.

Hope it helps,


replied on Jan 06, 2018
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
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You'll need to find the schedule that fits you best eventually. Be ready for 12hr avg days, maxing out to the occasional all-nighter. Most can do this, in tandem with travel, for ~2yrs max. If you want to find better balance, then plan an exit within 1-2yrs.

An (Jack)
updated his answer on Jan 14, 2018
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Hi there,

It varies by region and types of cases that you do. In BCG, Germany, parts of Asia and parts of US were known to have higher working hours. If you are interested in certain "high intensity' topics like private equity due diligence, hours tend to be long due to compressed timelines.

From my experience in BCG US and Australia. There is a key focus on a program called PTO - Predictability, Teaming, Open Communication - which has been great in managing work/life satisfaction.

Idea is for each consultant to openly communicate 3 KPIs to their working team of what is important for them to achieve to feel their work/life is balanced happy - e.g., "no work 7.30pm-9.30pm for gym and family dinner", "leave 5pm Tuesday to attend weekly volunteering".

These KPIs are set at the outset of the case, and openly communicated to other team members. Some adjustments / refinements may be made after everyone's KPIs are known to ensure the case still delivers great client outcomes (of course!), but it is expected that each team member tries to help other members achieve their KPIs. There is also dedicated weekly meetings to review progress against these.

I found this program particularly helpful for me to ensure sustainability and balance. Hope that perspective helps!


replied on Jan 16, 2018
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Honestly this depends on so many things.

1) your office

2) your projects - meaning your clients

3) your team - meaning your direct managers and partners

4) you - your ability to do the work quickly and communicate honestly to your managers and team how much time you need for which tasks

5) honestly prioritizing: being prepared (and this takes some confidence that takes time to build) to have a prioritization converasation with your manager - meaning you assert you have time for 3 tasks and therfore the 4th one will have to wait until next week. This isn't easy at first but is almost the most imporatnt thing you can do to save your work/life balance.

Your firm question: Honestly I don't think it depends on the firm. I've seen so many realities in McK worldwide in the US east coast vs. US west coast, Australia, UK, Netherlands etc.

Lastly, if helpful at all:

- there have been months when I worked on average until 3am.

- there have been months when I worked until 8pm.

- there have been months when my average was until midnight.

- I only worked on a weekend twice! And each time for 1-2 hours.

Good luck!


Oleksandr (Alex)
replied on Jan 04, 2018
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Hi there,

Hours depends within the firms (office-by-office). However, within the industry they usually are more or less the same. For example, while working on a study I stayed in the office until 4am. And in the next building there were guys from KPMG. Working the same hours.

Thus, it's rather important in which office you're heading rather the firm. Only in-house consultants (and external, but on very nice and long studies) work btw 9 to 21.00

Anonymous replied on Feb 23, 2018

Hey anonymous,

There are two major points around lifestyle:

  • Tier 2 consulting firms have much better lifestyle than MBBs (across the board)
  • Among MBBs, the major difference is not between firms, but indeed across geographies - everyone in the industry knows that lifestyle in Southern European countries are just shitty across all; on the other hand, amazing in Australia for all