This Monday, ISDC staff did something we don’t often get the chance to do: Gather as a big group in person!
While we foster a flexible work environment and use a variety of tools that allow remote cooperation day-to-day, we recognise the unique opportunities for collaboration and teambuilding that exist only when being together in a shared, physical space.
During our annual retreat in April, we took on a new task: Write a joint paper with everyone at ISDC. This week, we built on that preparatory work, with 18 of us splitting into different groups to contribute to a joint research paper.
In theory, the concept is quite simple: Build work packages, define tasks, and separate into groups. So that’s what we did!
Some of us worked on going through existing literature. Others focused on matching and analyzing data, passing the results on to our graphics group. One team put on the hat of reviewers, acting as a live robustness check. Another would take on new information as it came and begin the writing process in a shared document.
In practice, the plan requires a lot of flexibility. What if new literature changes our perspective on the subject? What if we need a new data source for a robustness check? What happens if one variable turns out differently than expected? Teams have to regularly check in with one another and adjust their work as new insights become available.
Exercises like these are not just brilliant ways to get a lot of work done in a comparatively short amount of time, they also function as fantastic opportunities for teambuilding. Through mixed groups, people from different research programs got to work on new topics in new constellations.
As an academic institute, we prioritize fostering a cooperative research environment, and organizing occasions such as these is part of that.
And going to a park to play some games in the sun after a long day’s worth of work obviously also helps!