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With all the talk about companies moving to hybrid workforces and hiring remote workers, it may seem counterintuitive to find that some companies are actually expanding their commercial real estate footprint.

But that is what some media organizations are doing this year. As society enters its next phase of the pandemic and offices reopen this spring, publishers are renting space to accommodate for growing headcounts.

  • Morning Brew will move to a larger space this summer in New York City. 
  • Industry Dive has moved to a new office in New York too, as well as opened hubs in London and Dhaka, Bangladesh. 
  • Future is opening an office in Atlanta for its video production aspirations. 
  • There are also reports that Vice is looking to move to a new space this year. When Digiday reached out to the company, a spokesperson declined to confirm those reports. 

This physical expansion is tied to an increase in employee headcounts: Morning Brew has grown from 40 people to 225 since the pandemic and Industry Dive now has 356 employees, up from 180 in March 2020. Future wants to hire 100 people based out of Atlanta.

“Our decision to continue to open offices is fueled by our growth,” said Meg Hargreaves, chief operating officer at Industry Dive

Notably, executives from Morning Brew, Industry Dive and Future each said they will not make it mandatory for employees to come into the office. Executives at the organizations are instead banking on the fact that its staff will voluntarily want to return to working with colleagues in person this year.

Aiming for a “flexible and productive” environment at Industry Dive

B2B digital media company Industry Dive moved to a new office in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan last summer, where 56 people are working in sales, accounting and its content studio. 

It also opened a new space in London in 2020, and is “about to sign a new lease” in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Hargreaves said. All three offices are “directly correlated” to Industry Dive’s acquisition of content marketing company NewsCred in July 2020. Roughly 20 people work out of London and out of Dhaka for Industry Dive, Hargreaves said.

Industry Dive has about 200 desks in the Washington, D.C. office it moved into in December 2020 (where the company is based), and is piloting the use of hoteling software in that office using Skedda’s desk booking and reservation system. It’ll allow employees to reserve desks and workspaces in a more flexible way.

Hargreaves has noticed a recent “traffic uptick” in the number of people coming into the office. Last week, she saw around 50 people in the office. “Crowded days” tend to revolve around strategy sessions, group meetings and happy hours, she said.

“We’re not monitoring the traffic like, ‘Oh, is the health of business contingent on how many people show up?’ It’s really not. But we know the health of the business is contingent on people feeling happy and feeling collaborative and seeing their colleagues… We are encouraging people to come together if they’re comfortable and giving them space to do that,” Hargreaves said. “Our focus right now is really on creating the most flexible and productive work space under this new normal that we can.”

“Remote empathetic” at Morning Brew

This summer, Morning Brew is also moving to Flatiron, after letting the lease for its office in the Financial District end during the pandemic. The New York office — which will be larger than its previous space to accommodate for the new hires — will be a sort of pilot to “see if people start to normalize and settle in over next year,” said Morning Brew CEO Austin Rief.

“We want to make sure we don’t invest in cities that people then move away from,” he said.

Rief used to think “remote culture was not sustainable” before the pandemic, he said. But now his perspective has changed: “Not only was it sustainable, but we were able to hire a much wider array of employees. The hybrid approach is where you have to go.” (Morning Brew now has staff in D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, and it has other employees spread out in California and Florida, Rief said.) 

Rief has taken on an approach he refers to as “remote empathetic” — which means employees “can work from where you want, when you want,” even if that means coming into the office zero days a week or three days a week. But, the goal is to “create a culture” and “experience” in the office so that those living in New York City will want to come in and spend time with coworkers.

“My guess is, when people come into the office, people will come in bunches,” Rief said. In the fall and spring, he predicts employees will come in four to five times a week, but in the winter they may not come in at all.

Offices are also important for Morning Brew’s audio and video production, in which the company is “investing heavily;” though Reif declined to say how much money the company is actually spending. Morning Brew has four podcasts as well as video shows that are currently being recorded out of a studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn — such as “Remember That,” “The Future of NFTs,” “Point of Return,” “Brew Breakdown” and “Street Value,” as well as video podcasts.

A hub for video production at Future plc

UK-based Future plc is opening a new office as a hub for its video production, in Atlanta, Georgia. The company told Digiday in February it will hire over 100 people based in Atlanta in editorial, sales and production roles to produce more women’s lifestyle, home and entertainment content. It’s renting out a 16,000 sq. ft. space on the fifth floor of the 55-story Bank of America Tower. (Future also has offices in New York City and D.C.) While for now Future will have a flexible work policy, chief revenue officer Jason Webby told Digiday that the company will encourage employees to come into the office two to three days a week starting this month.

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