The Biochemical Society held its annual Strategy Retreat at the end of November last year. The meeting of our Council of Trustees represented an opportunity to consider the key opportunities and challenges in the year ahead and brought together vital input from representative cohorts within our community, including early career researchers, editors of the Society’s journals and representatives from industry. 

Embracing and developing digital resources and making better use of our current platforms is a key area of focus for the future. We will explore a more integrated approach across our internal systems, enhance our website and support further digital development across a variety of formats, including an evaluation of pre-printing possibilities via our publishing arm, Portland Press. In 2020, our digital events reached over 8,000 people from across 85 countries around the world. The removal of geographical limitations and the inclusive and affordable nature of online meetings means we look forward to connecting with even more bioscientists in the year ahead.  

With the lack of face-to-face activities, we will be refreshing our thinking in the areas of grants, training, education, policy and public engagement to see how we can adapt our resources to provide the best possible support. Greater focus will be given to maximizing synergies across the Group, with a view to curating resources within the same fields. On the topic of vaccines, for example, there is an opportunity to bring together relevant papers, policy information, and details of past and upcoming events. We will also capitalize on collaboration with other societies, organizations and partners for the shared benefit of our communities.

Given the continued uncertainty of present circumstances, we are refraining from face-to-face meetings until October this year, at the earliest. It results in the shifting of many meetings to online formats. As well as forthcoming online conferences and training courses, our programme of webinars continues in the form of our new Biochemistry Focus series as well as a complementary series dedicated to early career researchers. These webinars will remain freely available to the community.

Like so many other organizations, the emergence of the pandemic meant a move to working remotely (largely from home) for our staff team. The transition to remote working was managed very successfully in March 2020, and we have taken the decision to embrace more innovative approaches to the workspace. As with any major decision of this nature, the Council of Trustees considered all key contributing factors, including an assessment of business requirements, consultation with staff, financial analyses and sister society benchmarking. It was agreed that remote working, with optional office-space subscriptions for those staff who would find this useful, and bi-monthly face-to-face meetings (when protocols allow), would be for a trial period of two years, with a progress review of six months from October 2021.

Equality, inclusivity and diversity (EDI) needs to be considered as part of everything we do. The longer-term move to a virtual office reflects this commitment to providing a more diverse and inclusive working environment, where employment is not restricted to staff who live in and around London. It will also facilitate greater flexibility for those with caring responsibilities or disabilities. We are equally committed to improving ‘in-house’ diversity across our committees, in parallel to developing our EDI strategy further.