Journalists at the Times and Sunday Times newspapers have been told to work from home for at least part of the week permanently in the latest sign of enduring changes caused by the pandemic.
Sunday Times staff are due to vacate their floor at the London Bridge headquarters of News UK, Rupert Murdoch’s British news publisher, and share space with the daily sister title. The empty space is due to be sublet.
Some sales and marketing teams are also due to relocate onto the Times floor. The resulting squeeze means "there will not be enough room for everyone from both titles to work in the office at the same time", journalists were told this week.
In an email to staff, the editors of the Times and Sunday Times , John Witherow and Emma Tucker, said: "This means staff will be able to work from home on a regular basis or for at least part of the week.
"We believe many of you will prefer this arrangement, but it is also important to come in for at least a couple of days a week to engage with colleagues in order to generate ideas and to stay in touch."
They join a trend towards some degree of permanent home working after the pandemic. Despite warnings of potential damage to productivity , major employers including Deloitte, Schroders, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered have signalled the end of traditional office working patterns.
However, across all industries a permanent shift to working from home has proved unpopular.
However, the move to reduce office costs has been in the works since before coronavirus struck, as part of plans for the historically separate Times and Sunday Times to share more resources.
The cost-cutting reflects the gradual decline of print newspapers circulation and advertising, and the need to invest in digital journalism served up via a seven-days-a-week website and apps.
"Overall we believe this move will especially help digital, an area where we have to make big strides in the months ahead,” Mr Witherow and Ms Tucker said.
The sought to reassure staff that there were no plans to formally combine the titles as "it is important both publications maintain their distinct voices", in line with media plurality regulations that date back to Mr Murdoch’s acquisition of the Times in 1981 .
Following an agreement with ministers last year to relax the rules, in recent months some departments have been merged, however, such as pictures desks, personal finance, travel and sport. The Times and the Sunday Times newsrooms are due to begin sharing floorspace from Dec 1.
The cost saving effort in newspapers comes as News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks invests in radio and television. This summer the publisher launched Times Radio, a rival to BBC stations designed to boost digital subscriptions to the Times titles.
More recently it has peppered media recruitment sites with vacancies related to a new television venture led by David Rhodes, a US broadcasting executive who previously worked at Mr Murdoch’s Fox News, among other channels.
One advertisement for a series editor calls for knowledge of live news production and recorded shows, as well as experience managing "big talent".
News UK is expected to launch its television venture next year. Its current affairs programmes are due to be carried online and as broadcasts, although it will not own its own channel.
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