The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Our C20 Director Catherine Croft on working from home

It’s my turn now to report on the impact remote working is having on what I do. Whilst the caseworkers suffer the frustrations of not being able to get out for site visits, or to libraries and archives for research, lockdown is proving challenging across other aspects of our work too.

Perhaps surprisingly getting press coverage for threatened buildings has been achievable— in fact there’s a definite appetite for stories that have nothing to do with coronavirus, and journalists are used to contacting us by social media or over the phone. So we’ve had some good coverage, including mentions in The Times.

Our press officer Wendy Akers has been one of our loyal volunteers who has kept working for us even though the camaraderie of the office has been lost, and she has been joining in Zoom discussions on a weekly basis.

Pulling together the magazine has been a challenge— both David Attwood (Deputy Editor) and our designer James Hunter, have been extraordinarily persistent and resourceful, but it’s not been easy. Normally we review content and layout at full size, with pages laid out across the floor between us: this time I’ve been squinting at a laptop screen. Thankfully photographer Phil Sayer had managed to visit Margate on a sunny day before lockdown, so we had his lovely set of pictures for “Me and My House”, but with several contributors unable to leave their houses, sorting out the illustrations for the Ephemera section and some of the features was far from straight forward. Quite a lot of photo libraries are closed, postage has been erratic, and not everyone has been able to extract files from work place computers without a lot of hassle. Many people are now working around home schooling and other unusual commitments, and fitting us in has been one more task to add to the complexity. So a huge thank you to everyone who’s played a part, and yes, final sign off was achieved today, and so the printers should be rolling later this week.

I’ve also been planning some online events  and governance has switched to Zoom, with Trustees meetings following a similar format to our online Casework ones. Right now we are working out what to do about the AGM— it’s a legal requirement to have one, but apparently that too can be virtual if necessary.

I’m really missing seeing my colleagues in the office at Cowcross Street, and keeping my daughter profitably occupied whilst I’m working has not been straightforward (I can’t say I 100% shared her joy at the cancellation of all her GCSEs!), but with everyone in the team really committed to what we do, making the switch and keeping the momentum going has been easier and more pleasurable than I anticipated.


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