Meaningful newsroom metrics in 3 easy moves

SUMMARY: News media companies must be able to react quickly and with flexibility. That requires setting up the physical space so it, too, is flexible.

Of all the things you have to think about in regard to successful digital transformation, where the furniture sits in the workplace might not seem like a big deal. But architecture is an integral part of digital strategy, along with audience, workflow and structures, people, products, and technology. Forget about any one of those components, and the whole thing can fall apart.

You need to make sure the interior design supports every other part of your digital transformation. For example, if you want to launch new products or change workflows, you need a truly flexible setup. If you want to change team focus, team size, or team configuration, you need to be able to adapt the interior design and configuration accordingly and quickly.

Based on the workflows, you know how people communicate and who makes decisions and when. This helps you define where people need to sit within the space, because they want to have people around them who are part of the decision-making process. Workflows and structures have a big influence on the interior setup.

You may not know what the future holds, but one thing for certain is you will need to reorganise your newsroom rapidly as things inevitably change. You don’t want to be hindered by your newsroom layout. Ideally, you should be able to re-arrange the workspace to accommodate the changes within 48 hours. Digital transformation isn’t something that is done once and finished; you’re going to want your physical space to change as new developments take place.

Most newsrooms are still built like offices that would be perfectly fine for an insurance company or a call centre, but not for a modern media company. For instance, if you were launching new video products right now, a traditional architect might say, “You should create a corner where you shoot video and the rest is office space.” But that limits your opportunities.

Over the last 10 years, we have designed many newsrooms around the world. We believe a modern approach is a newsroom that serves as a media centre in terms of lights, acoustics, and flexibility. For instance, you should be able to shoot and edit video anywhere in the newsroom and put people working on video in place to do so.

For this, you also need appropriate network infrastructure, the acoustic treatment needs to be suitable, and the lighting should be considered. The newsroom lighting alone should not necessarily be used for video, but it also shouldn’t disturb the video shoot.

Any space in the media industry, and especially a newsroom, should be a reflection of a dynamic, organic organisation. That does not mean it has to look like one of the hipster co-working spaces you often see when you visit start-ups — lots of different colours, polished concrete floors, and stylish looking, but sometimes not designed with comfort in mind. Lots of novelty is not always the right way to create a suitable media work environment.

On the other hand, it also shouldn’t be like an insurance company office or a call centre, where rows of desks are placed parallel to each other throughout the room and meeting rooms have plain white plain walls. It shouldn’t be a place where everything is “nicely” lit by fluorescent ceiling lights.

It needs to be something where form follows function follows strategy without being blinded by bright colours.

You want to build a structure of common areas tailored to the future — the right size, the right tech, the right setup, and the right positioning so it fits the purpose and is flexible.

So, don’t bolt down your furniture and, therefore, your options.♦︎