Bloomsbury plans two-day office return from June, as publishers mull options

Bloomsbury plans two-day office return from June, as publishers mull options

Bloomsbury is planning to ask employees to work two days a week from the office in future, as it embarks on a partial return from 21st June, the day when the government's strategy may see legal limits on social contact lifted. The move comes as other publishers gather employee feedback on flexible working preferences, with some also following a gradual phasing into office work thoughout the summer.

Nigel Newton, c.e.o. of Bloomsbury, said the company “hope to return to the office on 21st June, depending on the then prevailing coronavirus situation. They plan a partial return on that date and a full return on 7th September.” 

“It is envisaged that people will work initially and in future too on a hybrid model of two days a week in the office and three days at home. Accommodation will be made for those who wish to work five days in the office and for those whose roles dictate it,” Newton told The Bookseller.
 
Bonnier Books UK intends to open the doors to its new premises in Bloomsbury Square from the beginning of July, phasing in a return to office working, although Jonathan Perdoni, chief finance officer and chief operating officer, said the return would happen "gradually", with the company "reviewing the government’s advice carefully, while consulting our teams.” Last September, Bonnier chief executive officer Perminder Mann confirmed a permanent move to flexible working once lockdown lifted, with staff permitted to work up to three days from home if they choose. 

A spokesperson for Springer Nature said the company has developed “new normal” working practices that will be rolled out when restrictions fully lift, involving a balance of office and remote working. However the company stressed: "Throughout the pandemic our approach has been to prioritise employee health and safety. UK colleagues are currently strongly recommended to work from home, although our offices are open for those with a particular work-related need for access. We will continue to monitor the available data and review government guidance ahead of any decisions about a wider return to our offices."

At Pearson, staff may have access to certain office locations in late summer. Although details are short on the ground, Andy Bird, c.e.o., confirmed the company is moving towards “a more flexible hybrid culture”.

"The world of work, like the world of learning, is rapidly changing. We are transforming our offices into more modern, collaborative spaces to support the flexible work needs of our employees. We want them to be able to come and work in an office, not just at a desk. We are also committed to supporting them to work from home if they choose,” he said.

Penguin Random House is advising its staff to work from home until 21st June, and has said it is still exploring what a hybrid model of working should look like in the future. It has launched a staff survey to gather feedback, in addition to focus groups with employees across its divisions. Meanwhile Pan Macmillan will formally announce its plans in June. Its offices are currently open two days a week for those who have “specific need” of the space.

Canongate has already sent a survey to staff, and will decide “in the coming months what the work set up will be”. Jenny Fry, commercial director said the company would “be flexible depending on needs and circumstances”.  It is expected the publisher's offices, which are located in Edinburgh and London, will be advised to open at different times in keeping with country-specific restriction easing.

Simon & Schuster has not decided on a specific date, but a staggered return is to be expected. Ian Chapman, c.e.o. and publisher, said: “As it stands, we don’t have a fixed date to return to the office, however it’s certainly something that the senior team are thinking about with regards to what a return to office looks like in reality, and how we can accommodate more flexible practices into our working lives going forward. All staff will be given plenty of notice to ensure that they are prepared for a phased return."

Hachette announced a new three-day office working policy earlier this week, to be phased in from June which is expected to come fully into effect from September.