Penguin Random House (PRH) is an American publisher formed in 2013 from the merger of Random House and Penguin Group. It is the largest publisher in the UK, with nearly 250 independent imprints that collectively publish over 15,000 print titles and 70,000 digital titles annually. In the UK, PRH is composed of two distinct entities – Penguin Group and DK. Between them they employ almost 2,000 people in their London offices. PRH was originally based in three offices in Ealing, Pimlico and The Strand.
PRH approached UnWork looking to consolidate their workforce from three sites in London into two offices within a 15-20 minute walk of one another. PRH owned the Pimlico building, so the decision was made to keep this building and find a suitable building nearby to consolidate the workforce in to. PRH already knew that their occupancy levels were fairly low, so they aimed to increase occupancy at all sites through this process in order to make better use of the space and to radically improve the way that they worked.
UnWork were therefore asked to analyse the occupancy levels and workstyles of the staff at PRH in order to inform recommendations on suitable locations for their second office.
UnWork began the engagement with PRH by undertaking a number of quantitative and qualitative data collection exercises in order to best understand how PRH worked. By collecting data on all of the different types of space (e.g. desks, informal collaboration spaces and meeting rooms) in all of the buildings, UnWork built up a picture of how the space was being used at the time. Concurrently, a workplace survey was distributed to a range of staff across all departments and levels.
On average, only 47% of desks actually had someone sitting at them. At the maximum point recorded, this rose to 65%. When accounting for desks that appeared to have been used recently, the most desks observed to be in use was 77% – leaving 418 desks completely empty. Furthermore, the results of the survey found that the workplace was not fulfilling the needs of PRH staff, with its design hindering key activities like informal meetings, collaboration sessions and quiet focused work.
UnWork therefore recommended that PRH adopt a system of activity-based working (ABW) to account for their various activities during the working day. Results of our analysis showed that PRH’s previous workplace was not effectively supporting their activities, and so a concept was designed that provided spaces for a range of different work, while maintaining specialist team areas. This concept was tailored to the objectives of PRH and based around working in two buildings as equal pillars of a new campus, each divided into a series of districts and commons to reflect the different teams working there.