Homeshoring and Hoteling, for Cost Savings and More
Faced with falling print revenues (especially in Classifieds) and a poor economy, it needed to cut costs. Rather than lay off a few more reporters like most newspapers do these days, they're moving reporters out of their current offices and getting them into the field as mobile journalists. Read more in this Editor and Publisher story.
When reporters and editors need to be in an office together, they'll call ahead to reserve space at a new, smaller location -- a growing trend in business called hoteling. The paper expects to save $2.4 million a year on electricity, cleaning crews and building maintenance, with more to come when they sell the land.
Why do I like this idea? Well first, I'm obviously not happy that newspapers need to resort to such measures, but it makes more sense than cutting further into the reporting base that creates demand for a newspaper in the first place. It's a good example of taking a bad situation and turning it into a positive.
I also think it makes a ton of sense from a strategic perspective. Of course you want your journalists out of the office and in the communities they serve. Thanks to nearly ubiquitous cellular coverage, quality mobile broadband services and wifi, it's now possible for an employee to work from anywhere. I think news organizations should be doing more to mobilize their employees in general, regardless of cost savings.
Trust me, I know what I'm talking about, as I just spent my entire workday yesterday at a place called The Cup in Boulder, Colorado, surrounded by lots of MacBook Pro-toting entrepreneurs. I got a lot done, and so did they. Compared to four years ago when I felt strange pulling out my laptop at a coffee shop, today you almost stand out if you don't have a laptop.
As a remote employee who has worked out of a basement office for over four years, I find that it's sometimes helpful to trick my senses into thinking I'm in an office by working from a wifi coffee shop. It's actually more efficient than an office though because I don't know any of the people sitting around me. There's no temptation to waste time shooting the breeze. We all sit there hunched over our laptops typing away, with an occasional sip of coffee. We still spend a lot of time communicating with colleagues through instant messages, e-mail and phone calls, but most of those interactions are focused on work.
I know this probably sounds like a scene out of the movie Brazil. It's weird and different, but it works. And for you managers out there, I can tell you that we work-from-homers are also a lot happier than office workers. We have an extra 40-60 minutes each day thanks to no commute, we're more protected from the sting of $4/gallon gas, and we work on our own terms. And while you will very likely not believe this, most of us are also more productive thanks to fewer distractions.