What should newsrooms take into account when looking to relocate or remodel their office? An American Press Institute report, authored by Dana Coester, recounts the experiences of select US newsrooms and cites relevant research to deliver suggestions for both low-budget and “aspirational” plans.
Most importantly, management should consult their staff: What do they want of in terms of location? How do they use the current space? What do they want changed? It is also important to consider what is the purpose of the change. Most commonly journalists interviewed for the report cited changes in staff size: either the staff was growing out of their current office, or the newsroom was becoming too big for a downsized staff.
Beyond the more practical needs, managers often cited the need to improve staff welfare: “more light and less vermin”, as one editor said. Other than improving journalists’ mood, interior redesign can help foster collaboration. This can be done by making sure team members are within a “chair-rolling distance” from each other and by creating spaces where journalists from different departments can casually “collide”.
Open-plan offices should still strike a balance between “we” and “me”, the report emphasizes. Constant and forced togetherness will not have the positive effects voluntary (but made easy) being together does.
The report “A Matter of Space” is freely available on American Press Institute’s website.
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