Reflections on the success of “The New Normal” webinar - facilitating community building and participant engagement


  • Kaitlin McNally NCCR Digital Fabrication, ETH Zurich
  • Nora Escherle Schweizerische Vereinigung der Ingenieurinnen SVIN
  • Linda Seward ETH Zurich



The COVID-19 pandemic will almost certainly prove to be a turning point in how people work and how they balance work and home life, the hope is for the better. However, early in 2020 there were reports of the disproportionate burden imposed on working women in Switzerland because of lockdown measures. The aim of the webinar series “The New Normal”, organised by the Swiss Society for Female Engineers (SVIN) and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication, was to provide women working in practice or academia in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) sectors with relevant information and concrete ideas about the nature of the new normal and its assumed or real effects on women. The organisers aimed to empower women to use the global upheaval to effect positive change towards a better, more gender-equal work-life. The webinar was also intended to give participants an occasion to connect and share their experiences of the “new normal”. To achieve this dual objective, both content and format were given much consideration in the organisation of the webinar. This was clearly perceived and highly appreciated by participants as indicated in the final feedback poll in the last webinar session. In this article, we will describe our methods of combining content (i.e., research on and personal experiences of various aspects of the “new normal”) and format (i.e., a setting engendering lively, meaningful, and open interaction) in the best possible way. The webinar was considered a success firstly because of the level of community building and exchange that was fostered between participants, as evidenced by recurring active participation, networking, and openness to share personal challenges and triumphs in the “Tales from the Home Office” session, and secondly, the quality of information and recommendations as documented in the final report.