One of the UK’s leading news publishers is calling time on the traditional newspaper office, with the owner of the 每日镜报 set to tell the vast majority of its journalists that they will permanently work from home in future.
Reach, which also owns the 每日快报, Daily Star and hundreds of regional newspapers around the UK and Ireland, will inform three-quarters of its staff on Friday morning that they will no longer be expected to come to the office full-time. Dozens of mid-sized towns will lose their remaining newspaper office, with staff having to commute to the nearest major city if they want to work at a company desk.
The company will instead maintain hub offices filled with meeting rooms in Belfast, Bristol, 伯明翰, 都柏林, Cardiff, 格拉斯哥, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds, 利物浦, 伦敦, 曼彻斯特, Nottingham and Plymouth. This means journalists working on the group’s local titles in East Anglia will have to head to the London HQ if they want to use their nearest office.
Staff are already raising concerns about how low-paid junior employees will cope with permanently working in cramped domestic accommodation, and the impact on an outlet’s local prestige and training if all employees are based remotely. But after a year of newsrooms working remotely, the publisher is convinced it can push ahead with the changes as well as making cost savings by ending some commercial office leases.
Reach will also halve the size of its main headquarters at Canary Wharf in London, meaning many journalists on its national titles will no longer be based there. Local journalists have been promised “pre-organised social activities” to ensure they still see colleagues in person.
Despite strong digital advertising growth, Reach’s income is still overwhelmingly reliant on the sale of print newspapers that are in terminal decline.
An internal company survey found most of its staff felt they did not need to be in an office to do their job. The same research found 70% of staff still missed seeing their colleagues in person.
A spokesperson for Reach said: “We carried out a survey of all colleagues that showed a majority found home working suited their needs. Moving forward colleagues will either be home-based or working mainly from home with around a quarter office-based, working from one of our 15 hubs around the country. This solution provides increased flexibility with the ability to have access to meeting space to recapture face-to-face collaboration and a social element – when lockdown rules allow.”
Other news outlets are taking different approaches. Staff at Mail Online have been told they will be expected to start returning to the office from the end of March, while the Guardian has told staff they will be working from home until the autumn. Both are committed to having employees physically based in the newsroom long term.