Penguin Random House UK is vacating both its Transworld office in Ealing and its office in the Strand by 2020, it has announced.
All its employees will instead be housed in the existing site in Vauxhall Bridge Road and another, as yet to be identified building, "ideally" within walking distance.
The move will follow the expiry of PRH's lease at 80 Strand in 2020 and staff will begin moving over "from 2019-2020," the publisher said.
Staff were informed of the move on Tuesday (28th June) and were told it would be a chance to create their own “workplace of the future”.
The existing office on Vauxhall Bridge Road will be "completely renovated and transformed" with the help of employees, who have been asked for their opinions and ideas to inform the "substantial reinvention" of both the publisher’s London-based sites and working practices.
Staff will be asked to consult on aspects from what sort of facilities they want to whether they’d like a more flexible work culture, via a series of consultations, question and answer sessions, and surveys. These will be followed by invitations to join working groups and site visits which will continue to inform the design process until project completion in 2020.
No budget for the project has been revealed, but because PRH owns the Vauxhall Bridge site, there should be flexibility with its renovation plans, the company said.
Each building will accommodate in the region of 400 to 500 people with the spread between buildings mixing Penguin and Random House staff.
The move will be seen as a wrench for Transworld's Ealing staff: its separateness and distinctiveness have widely been seen as among the key reasons behind its long term success.
Larry Finlay, m.d. Transworld, said he was feeling "a range of emotions inevitably" about the move.
"Overall I would say this: Transworld is the company that it is because of who we are, because of who we publish and how we publish, rather than because of where we are.
"There are definite benefits. One, it is going to be better for us in terms of recruitment and retention, there’s no doubt about it. It is a factor sometimes, if you live way out east or in Brighton or you live in the south of London, it’s tough to come to Ealing. It’s a bit of an inhibitor for some people, so being in the centre of town will be better for us. The other thing is we’ll have better access to all of our group departments which we share with the rest of PRH. We lean and reach out to them as best we can, and have very good relations with them, but it’s going to be all the better if they’re upstairs or round the corner. In that respect I think we’re going to get more from our group departments."
He added: "The drawbacks are mainly for those who live nearby. Quite a lot of our people live in Ealing or very nearby within walking distance. It’s going to be a commute for them. But there are as many people, if not more, who have a long commute now, so there’s a balance there really. And we’ve got a lot of time to plan for this, we’ve got three and a half years, it’s probably not going to be until 2020 that we move.
"There was a very good spirit yesterday, I was really pleased. I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to go down but actually I would say 80-90% of people are feeling really positive."
PRH UK c.e.o. Tom Weldon said both the two new London sites would be "high-spec, open plan creative hubs".
“The way in which people will work, the way in which people will live, travel and communicate will be radically different in the future and we need to think about how we take this into account in the decisions that we make now," he said.
“This is about so much more than just bricks and mortar; we will be looking at how we can provide maximum flexibility around the way we work. We will of course be speaking to experts in innovative design, but the most important voice is that of our employees.
“By listening, testing and implementing their ideas, we really will be able to create THE place where people can do the best work of their lives."
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