A regional publisher is set to close all bar 15 of its offices in the UK – leaving most of its regional titles without bases in the areas they serve.
Reach plc has told most of its journalists they will permanently work from home in future, prompting office closures across the country.
Reach says it will instead maintain hub offices filled with meeting rooms in Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham, Dublin, Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Greater Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and an office in the South-East of England.
This means daily titles including the Cambridge News, Derby Telegraph, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Leicester Mercury, North Wales Daily Post and Stoke-on-Trent daily The Sentinel will no longer have an office on patch – along with many of its ‘Live’ network of more than 70 regional news websites and other newspapers in its 110-strong portfolio of titles.
The company says it has decided to make the move after the past year saw most of its employees work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A Reach spokeswoman 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 regular office attendance, and around a quarter permanently office-based, working from one of 15 hubs around the country.
“We’re pleased to be investing in all our hubs to provide more modern, flexible working environments.
“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.”
Reach says it will be investing in upgrades at all the designated hubs to allow for more flexible working.
The National Union of Journalists will be consulting with members over the plans.
Mark Johnson, Reach NUJ group chapel chair, said: “This is a massive project for Reach plc and we, as a union, understand that our members will have lots to consider and say about the proposals. It will undoubtedly affect them in a multitude of ways – some of which we may not have thought about yet.
“With this in mind, a one size fits all solution from the company probably would not be the best way forward and we appreciate therefore that the company is stressing that it will listen carefully to the individual circumstances of members.
“We will be consulting closely with our members to understand their key questions and queries.
“By working together, we can ameliorate any potential problems and issues and hopefully find solutions that work for all.”