Canadian news outlets close physical offices, codifying remote work

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TORONTO — Some of Canada’s newsrooms will now permanently exist only in cyberspace, as publishers look to save money on physical offices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Torstar is permanently closing the physical office spaces for the Waterloo Region Record and the St. Catharines Standard by the end of next month, as media follows industries like tech that have embraced remote work as a permanent default.

The company says all staff at the two outlets will work remotely on a permanent basis — following the same model as the Peterborough Examiner, which closed its offices last summer after the COVID-19 pandemic forced staff to work from home.

Torstar spokesman Bob Hepburn says there will be no changes to headcount or print and digital products as a result of the office closures, which will let the company cut its leasing costs of office space.

Torstar’s decision comes amid a similar shift in the U.S. and U.K., where the New York Daily News no longer has a physical newsroom and the publisher of Britain’s Daily Mirror is moving many employees to work from home near office hubs.

A J-Source survey of 2018 and 2019 Canadian journalism school graduates said almost 57 per cent of 122 respondents found that it was either more difficult or much more difficult than normal to interact with co-workers under pandemic conditions.