STAFF at The Press have spent the past 15 months producing their newspaper in temporary, demountable offices following the Christchurch earthquake.
They finally returned to regular offices in the city this week on the back of 12 wins at the New Zealand Media Awards.
The Press building was destroyed in February last year, forcing staff to relocate to “portacoms” parked around Fairfax’s printing plant outside of the city.
Conditions were cramped and noisy with outside toilets, poor telephone reception and exposure to the elements.
“They say that if you spend enough time in a monkey cage, you can’t smell the monkey poop anymore.
The portacom was a bit like that,” said journalist Charlie Gates on their website.
Staff each had a one-metre portion of bench to use as a desk.
General manager Andrew Boyle told News Now: “It was quaint – that’s one way to describe it.
“It was pretty tight set-up; nevertheless you do what you have to do in those sort of circumstances. We just got on with getting the paper out.”
One of the beneficial by-products was an improvement in staff communication.
Before the portacoms, staff tended to interact only with those on their building
floor. Now they are a lot closer.
Advertising consultant Bronwyn Hawkins said the organisation had become close to the point staff understood “we actually all contribute to the churning wheels of The Press, not just one department alone”.
The entire culture of the business has changed as a result, according to Mr Boyle.
The goal now is to continue that momentum.
Staff also had visits from Fairfax Media’s chief executive Greg Hywood and chairman Roger Corbett during their stay in the portacoms.
Now it is being back in a regular office that is strange.
“You expect to be surrounded by people but you’re not anymore,” said Mr Boyle.
It was extraordinary to see the work staff achieved despite the conditions, said editor Andrew Holden.
“I guess that’s the story of Christchurch.”