I'm an analyst in Accenture's government operating group. Much of Accenture's government work is currently based in Leeds and Newcastle (NHS, DWP etc) which often entails long periods of time away from home (often 6-18 months at a time). Although it makes sense to be based at the client location, much of this work could easily be undertaken from anywhere (ie a nice office back home in London!!) Which begs the question - why is accenture so keen on sending its staff miles away from home 5 days a week? it must cost the firm a fortune in hotels, travel and rental of apartments.
I know this sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, but I think there is a deliberate policy to send people to work away from home because they are willing to work harder. I know that I have always ended up working much longer hours when on out-of-town assignments, compared to when I am in London with the prospect of my own home, friends and family to return to! Accenture makes a big fuss about "work / life balance" but in reality makes very little effort accomodate the requests of its staff.
I got into consulting quite prepared to travel a lot and work hard...but it seems that when accenture say "willingness to travel" they actually mean "willingness to relocate". I'd be very interested to read anyone else's opinions on this, and what the situation is like in other firms.