Penguin Random House completed moving its Penguin staff members that had been working on Hudson Street to 1745 Broadway, where Random House has long had its headquarters, on January 2. PW talked with PRH US CEO Madeline McIntosh about the move.
Can you discuss the timing of the move?
From the earliest days of the merger, the idea of coming together under one roof was something we hoped we could do, knowing that we wouldn’t truly feel like one company until we were all cohabitating. Initially, despite this wish, we didn’t think we’d be able to make the move until a distant point in the future, when our lease at 1745 would come up for renewal. But then the real estate stars aligned, and the opportunity for an earlier move became a reality.
With the notable exceptions of the architects, construction teams, and movers, the project was wholly managed by our own employees instead of consultants. This is the approach that worked well for us when we executed the earlier phases of our merger, and it worked well here, too. We’re so pleased with how the whole project went, and that, already, everyone is settled in to their new spaces.
How many people moved up from Hudson Street? And how many people are now at Broadway?
More than 1,200 employees moved uptown in December. There are currently more than 2,000 people working at our 1745 Broadway offices.
Can you talk a little about how the process worked? Did you move staff floor by floor or by department? When was everyone moved in?
There were three waves in December, each a week apart: sales first, then Penguin Young Readers, then the Penguin Publishing Group. Beyond sales, many of the corporate departments moved earlier in the year or joined one of these three waves. All were moved by the close of business in December so that we could all welcome 2019 together at 1745. The process was extremely detailed, as you might imagine. It was led by our office services team, in close cooperation with operations, IT, HR, and corporate communications. We also created a transition monitoring team, which consisted of colleagues from every division and department—including those that weren’t moving—to support the process and help manage the change.
Did you need to do much remodeling to accommodate the Penguin staff? Do they have their own section?
For the most part, we were able to repurpose or only slightly adapt the major physical infrastructure of the floors we took over, and we brought much of the furniture from Downtown with us. We did, of course, freshen up across the board, so even where there wasn’t major construction, it feels quite new.
All the publishing groups, including those that were already at 1745, have their own floors, as do corporate departments. While the architectural features are consistent throughout the building, each group has the opportunity to individually express their unique identities with books and other artistic and decorative elements. It’s also worth noting that some of the existing common spaces at 1745 were renovated to be more efficient and to accommodate more people. For example, our café auditorium, which our employees voted to name the Maya Angelou Auditorium (all of our large common spaces are named for authors following employee nominations and voting), was redesigned and expanded.
What do you see as the biggest benefit of the PRH staff being together in one place?
Of course, it’s much easier for everyone to communicate and collaborate when you’re physically in the same space. For many corporate departments—sales and legal are good examples—they no longer have to split their teams in multiple locations and spend time traveling between Uptown and Downtown. We’re all happy to spend a little less time on the 1 train. There’s great value not just to the ease of getting people together in a planned way but also in the impromptu conversations that take place in the lobby, café, and elevations—just as you would expect.
How much money will you save from being in one building?
While there are certainly projected cost savings—and this was an important factor in the decision to move the penguins uptown—we believe the major benefits will come primarily from working together in the same place.