The pandemic created disruption for societies in so many ways, but when publishing consultants Sarah Greaves and Jon Treadway surveyed the community in its aftermath, they discovered that the question of “buildings and what to do with them” was at the forefront of many minds. Sarah and Jon had assumed that the transition to Open Access would be the most pressing concern but whilst this was high up on the list of “things to worry about”, more operational challenges took precedent.
Many societies are housed in beautiful, historical buildings located in sought after locations. Before Covid, they were hubs of activity, where people in the community came together to work, to learn, to collaborate. Many society buildings were also a source of revenue as societies rented out office space or offered venue hire and event services. But practically overnight all that changed and societies were faced with large, expensive, empty buildings which still needed servicing – and what had been a valuable asset very quickly become a liability.
As the world started returning to work, societies pondered practical questions such as how to facilitate hybrid working, how to manage virtual events and how to stay afloat, alongside the more existential ones such as “Is having a building fundamental to the mission of the society?”.
Sarah and Jon are joined by a panel of society leaders who discuss the impact of all things hybrid on their buildings and their societies and how the fallout from the pandemic has led to them questioning their mission and the needs of their communities.