Five Newsroom Design Concepts Every Office Should Steal
Johnathan Sandler in Consulting, media

Take a lesson from the design of a productive newsroom environment. Image © Gensler

Go to Fox News, CNN or any other newsroom and you will see lots of activity. People across functions working together to make split-second decisions. The image of the lively, sometimes hectic newsroom may sound off-putting, but there’s actually a lot that can be learned from this project type. Apply these five design ideas to make your workplace a content-producing powerhouse.

1. Fast, Flexible Video and Still Photography

The best newsrooms are designed so that you can be on-air in an instant and not just from traditional studios. Regardless if you are in consumer products, financial services or media, being able to easily film onsite and on-demand from the workplace is becoming an essential amenity. Communicating your point of view about the stock market or the latest fashion trend is a necessity of modern commerce. Designating spaces that can serve as open studios, or providing simple infrastructure for camera positions is an easy way to make your workplace broadcast-ready.

2. Rapid Meetings

Long, drawn-out meetings are the bane of everyone’s work existence. They can’t happen in a newsroom environment—there’s no time. Instead most meetings happen on the fly, standing up either at the desk or in immediately adjacent huddle rooms and open meeting areas. Having fewer large, traditional meeting rooms sends a message that interaction between colleagues—for the most part—should be rapid and action-oriented. For big stories and major editorial meetings, there are still a very limited number of larger rooms and war rooms.

Hyundai Capital’s Seoul, Korea HQ includes a corporate recording studio, a must-have for the modern company. Image © Gensler.

3. Cross-Functional Teams

Every team is represented in the newsroom. Getting different minds and different responsibilities together in one place is what drives content production. Mobile, online, print and the key sections or shows are represented. Just as in most typical workplaces today, the goal is to integrate groups and to create a culture of teamwork. More and more newsrooms are going even further by shifting to unassigned seating so employees can sit with whichever group of teammates makes sense for a given project. The lesson learned for all workplaces is to challenge traditional adjacencies by department and to mix people up. This is an opportunity to think about mobility or unassigned seating not as a way to save space (as it’s typically been positioned) but as a way to allow teams to come together organically.

4. Clear Decision Making

Newsrooms take all the guessing out of who is in charge because there is a decision-making hub right in the middle. Representatives of the major sections or functions don’t sit together in big offices but in an open “superdesk.” Spinning off the superdesk are teams that are constantly focusing, brainstorming and then pitching ideas. Those in the center filter stories quickly, have immediate access to their fellow leaders and constantly make decisions to get content out. In the digital world there is no time to waste. Physically connecting leaders to one another cuts down the pipeline to print, Twitter and all other platforms.

5. Energetic, But Not Necessarily Loud

Are you scared off by the idea of working in the craziness of a newsroom? Don’t be. Because it’s organized like layers in an onion, the outer rings are actually much calmer and quieter. These areas are nearby so researchers and others that require quiet can be within arms-length but not too close to the bustling core. The radial system creates an overall community but not one that has a homogenous experience.

Newsrooms do what few workplaces do well—they connect teams and create engines for turning ideas quickly into content. Isn’t this something we all want our workplaces to help us do?

Johnathan Sandler is a Principal in our Consulting Group and a Global Leader of the Media Practice. He works closely with leaders and employees on projects that transform their work environments and advance their work practices. Contact him at
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