Lifeway Christian Resources is relocating its corporate headquarters as part of a new work model that emphasizes flexibility, creativity, and collaboration, it said in a statement. The company, which includes the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, had already embraced a remote, flexible work schedule prior to the pandemic, but it went fully remote at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and the move will better support an increasingly mobile workforce, according to Ben Mandrell, CEO of Lifeway.

“Creativity and community go together,” Mandrell tells PW. “Our work-from-anywhere vision means employees can do a portion of the work from home while also scheduling strategic meet-ups to share ideas.”

Once Lifeway moves into the new office, located at 200 Powell Place in Brentwood, Tenn., employees will continue working remotely, while using the office for collaborative work at their discretion. Plans for the office include meeting rooms, drop-in workstations, a social hub, private spaces for phone and video calls, as well as spaces for individual work. The space will also have a state-of-the-art podcast, video, and photography studios, as well as post-production suites.

While there is no official move-in date yet, Lifeway staff, including its publishing imprint B&H, will make the transition by the end of 2022. Devin Maddox, trade books publisher at B&H, says that the move emphasizes the value of in-person work, which must be balanced with working remotely.

“The focus in our organization post-pandemic is building a future-directed culture that is positive and forward thinking,” says Maddox. “The prospect of moving into a new space will require us (when it is medically safe), to reassess what the right balance is for our team moving forward. The question will be assessing the difference between in-person and virtual meetings in terms of the ‘connection’ that is afforded in person and limited on Zoom.”

Downsizing its headquarters comes nearly three years after LifeWay closed all 170 of its bricks-and-mortar stores in favor of digital channels in 2019. The move also follows many other recent changes to the publishing industry as a whole following the pandemic.

“The manufacturing side of publishing has shifted so much that one could say everything has changed,” Maddox says. “Initially, when overseas partners began to slow down production, we all rushed to pursue domestic alternatives. But in doing so, we flooded the market so much that there are now long lines that rival timetables for international schedules.”

The only solution, Maddox says, is “either we will see international partners overcome supply chain issues enough to relieve some demand on domestic partners, or domestic manufacturers will expand production.”

During a semiannual meeting on January 25 of Lifeway’s trustees Lifeway's CFO Joe Walker reported that Lifeway ended its 2021 fiscal year $4 million above than budget, and funds provided by operations (bottom line) was $12 million better than budget, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.

Walker noted that revenue for the first quarter is above budget by 1.5% and above last year by 2.7% as the result of strong sales of short-term studies, Bibles, supplies, and books. Bible study curriculum continues to rebound as sales for winter materials are above 2021 by 17%, Walker added.