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Chief executive urges journalists to spend time in office ‘where feasible’

Henry Faure WalkerJournalists at a regional publisher have been urged to spend some time each week working from newspaper offices by the company’s chief executive.

Newsquest has made the plea after confirming its commitment to hybrid work environments which will see staff work partially from the office and partially from home.

In a message to staff, chief executve Henry Faure Walker has encouraged journalists to spend “at least part of the week” at the office, citing the benefits of “meeting, collaborating and working with our colleagues face to face”.

The move contrasts with the approach of some industry rivals. Last year both Archant and Reach plc announced they were set to close the majority of their offices after most staff expressed a preference for remote working.

Henry, pictured, made the call amid the further lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in England.

He wrote in his message: “I personally am really looking forward to getting back out across the business to see more of you this year.

“We will continue to run our hybrid work from home and office approach which works well for most of our employees.

“We think hybrid is generally the best approach, but we also think we shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of meeting, collaborating and working with our colleagues face to face again, so wherever feasible we encourage you to spend at least some of the week in our offices.”

Newsquest has previously cited its hybrid working model as a positive selling point when recruiting staff.

The company’s editorial director Toby Granville mischievously tweeted last year that journalists who wanted to work in an “actual newsroom as opposed to their spare bedroom” should come and work for his group.

In the memo, Henry also revealed Newsquest’s digital revenues had increased by 22pc in 2021 and had overtaken print as the company’s largest source of advertising revenue, adding more than 50,000 readers had now signed up as digital subscribers across the group’s titles.

“We expect this year’s advertising market to be more active as the economy fully opens up.  With the hard yards that you have put into the development of our sales and editorial teams’ digital skills, and the strength of our LOCALiQ advertising solutions, we are in a very good position to take advantage of this,” he said.

Henry also pointed out that Newsquest’s local news brands now have greater penetration than Facebook in most of their markets.

“The strength of our audiences was borne out in the recent JICREG audience data release which shows that in most of our markets Newsquest’s local news brands are now read by at least 75% of the local population – impressive, particularly when you consider that Facebook’s UK penetration is now less than 50%,” he said.

He further announced a new local volunteering initiative whereby any Newsquest staff member can get one paid day off each year to help with volunteering projects in their area.

Added Henry: “It fits very well with our core purpose of ’empowering our communities to thrive’, and we hope a good number of you will be able to take advantage of this.”