In a major decision, Oxford University Press officials have confirmed to PW that the company is set to leave its offices at 198 Madison Avenue in the coming months. The news was delivered to staff at a meeting on Thursday morning. And while a search is underway for a new space to serve at least some portion of OUP’s workforce, OUP USA President Niko Pfund told PW that the press’s post-pandemic workplace will likely be a work in progress until a clearer picture emerges of the company’s needs.
“We are exploring alternative office space right now on an interim basis because we want to observe how people work in a new environment and learn along the way,” Pfund told PW. OUP's New York office currently has no in-office mandate for employees, and no plans to implement one, he added, noting that productivity levels from remote work remain strong and that many employees have organized their lives around working from home in the wake of the pandemic. “We don’t want to spend money on empty real estate when that money can be better invested in our publishing and our workforce,” Pfund said.
The move marks the end of an era for OUP. The press moved to 198 Madison—the iconic, landmarked B. Altman Building—in the mid 1990s. Oxford University owns the top six floors of the vast building, which occupies an entire city block between Madison and Fifth Avenues in the shadow of the Empire State Building. The Fifth Avenue side of the building is occupied by the City University of New York's Graduate Center.
While the move is imminent, it is unclear how quickly—or how slowly—a move might happen, and press officials said it's possible the press could go fully remote for a brief period before getting into a suitable new space.
Though it is leaving its current space, OUP—which employs more than 200 workers in its New York offices—remains committed to having a strong physical presence in New York, officials said, and will be exploring ways to utilize its future workplace in a way that best accommodates in-person, remote, and hybrid work schedules and supports the integration and professional development of junior and entry-level staff. This includes potentially structuring in-office workdays differently as well continuing to support in-person gatherings and social events for staff to foster a healthy workplace culture.