A World Gone Virtual

Because I have continued to work from home throughout the current Covid-19 environment, the brief chats that I have colleagues and suppliers at the start of the ‘virtual’ meetings that we now hold have taken on a whole new aspect. They can often be the only time I actually get to talk to somebody outside my home environment. Last week I had just such a meeting with a supplier. We spent the first ten minutes swapping stories about our experiences of working from home, the occasional interruptions from our nearest and dearest, inquisitive pets jumping up in front of the laptop at just the wrong time and the inevitability of parcels arriving at the door, right in the middle of a meeting.

The Executive Committee is also using technology to meet more frequently as we wrestle with some of the challenges of continuing to run IPMS (UK) and prepare for Scale ModelWorld in these strange times. With no opportunity to hold face to face meetings, we’ve embraced the virtual world to make such meetings possible. It’s not a solution that suits everyone but at least it allows for a more flexible approach to how we operate in the current circumstances.

Conversely, the current situation has also served to highlight how far down the line of remote working IPMS (UK) has already travelled. Whilst the magazine is still delivered in a hard copy form, the preparation and design has long been done electronically and that means production can continue on schedule. Our membership administration transferred to an electronic system a couple of years ago, so again, we can continue to provide a business-as-usual approach. Being able to take payments online means members can renew their subscriptions more conveniently and we can also sell some of our merchandise too. The annual competition entries for Scale ModelWorld have long been accepted via email and online, whilst votes for our AGM can be submitted via email if members so choose.

If you’ve read last week’s blog you’ll be aware that we are now adding the possibility to engage with our members through electronic mailshots and surveys. For our first ‘experiment’ we have asked a series of questions about he IPMS Magazine. There’s nothing new about this idea. We’ve done surveys in the past via the magazine itself and that will remain the only avenue that truly reaches every member of the Society in the foreseeable future. However, if we need to take a reasonably representative sample of our members views on a given subject, our ability to do this electronically via a targeted email means that we can get reactions far more quickly.

As an example of how valuable this type of survey can be, we sent out the magazine survey last Wednesday to just over 3,100 members who had previously provided us with email contact details – that’s around three quarters of our current membership. By Saturday evening we had received more than 1,200 replies to that survey.

All this technology is great, but it is nothing if we cannot continue to take an active part in our hobby. It’s a mark of the resilience of the modelling fraternity that we have been able to adapt to this new, socially distanced society, but I miss my monthly club meetings, the shows I attend each year and the people I meet at those events.

John Tapsell

IPMS (UK) Publicity Officer