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Publisher to close eight offices amid shift to home working

Archant's Norwich headquarters

A regional publisher is to close all but four of its 12 offices in the wake of the post-Covid shift towards home working.

Archant has announced that eight of its newsrooms, including all those in London, Hertfordshire, North Devon and Somerset, are to close by the end of March 2022.

In future the company will retain just four offices in Norwich, Ipswich, Huntingdon and Exeter, although all of these will be downsized.

The move follows what it describes as “very low numbers” of staff returning to offices post-Covid, with most preferring to work from home.

Three offices – in St Albans, Weston Super Mare and Wokingham – will close by the end of December, with the Stevenage newsroom closing at the end of January.

They will be followed by the Barnstaple, Cheltenham, Great Yarmouth and Romford offices which will all close by the end of March.

All of the group’s London titles, including the Ham & High, Islington Gazette and Hackney Gazette, have been based at the Eastern Road, Romford offices since it closed its Finchley Road, Hampstead office in 2018.

Titles currently based at the Stevenage office include The Comet and the Welwyn and Hatfield Times.

The move by Archant echoes that of Reach plc which earlier this year closed all but 15 of its offices incuding regional daily newsrooms such as those of the Derby Telegraph, Leicester Mercury and Cambridge News.

As with Archant, the Reach plc closures followed a survey which showed home working suited the needs of most staff.

An Archant spokesperson said: “Since March last year, remote working has become the norm for many organisations, ours included.

“We have seen, time and again, from staff survey feedback and the very low numbers of employees who choose to come into our offices, that for the majority of people, home working is a preferred choice.

“Therefore, having looked carefully at our estate, we are reducing the number of physical locations we occupy to reflect the changes in how we work.

“Our commitment to our readers and customers remain steadfast. Our communities will see and feel no change and we will continue our unrivalled presence on the ground”.

Archant’s corporate HQ at Prospect House in Norwich, pictured, was sold in 2019 to an insurance form but the company retained a presence on the first floor of the building.

As reported by HTFP last year, it has since carried out a revamp that saw it ditch traditional office layout in favour of a more “agile” working environment.