Smart working during covid-19 | what we learnt and what practices we will do differently once back in the lab

We have entered phase 2 in Italy few days ago and we are now planning to go back in the lab. It was, therefore, a good time to do a balance of what we learnt and achieved during these months of smart working, and of which of these good practices we will continue to adopt.

In a matter of hours, we found ourselves catapulted in a totally different dimension. We had to reinvent ourselves, the way we used to work. I am not sure whether we could have done it better, but I am sure that we did our best and it was great.

We only knew how to work face-to-face; the main way to exchange information and collaborate was in person. In matter of days we learnt how to use Microsoft Teams, and we started to come up with new and different ways to keep our minds challenged and trained.

We are going to share some of the things we did:

  • we created a discussion team organised in multiple thematic channels
  • we created a group wiki; it is now a point of reference for many topics and we keep on updating and completing it
  • we have very frequent discussions on a matter of topics
  • we started to attend online conferences; there was no way we could have attended so many conferences and talks in person (and for free!)
  • we have daily online coffees to discuss small things, queries and updates, or just have some small chats
  • we finally organised regular group meetings
  • we started to have group meetings together with other groups in other universities
  • we now have our own group templates for documents and presentations
  • we launched our website, finally!
  • we managed to have our students, Rosario and Andrea, graduate with brilliant results!
  • we regularly started to prepare monthly reports
  • we created a forum to collect and discuss new ideas
  • we realised we can think of inventive ways to keep our passion and interest up

Above all, we created a solid group infrastructure that will be our crucial support for development in the future. We would, probably, have never had the time to work and implement it in other conditions.

We now know that we will slowly go back to our usual way of living our research. We also know that we learnt a lot from these couple of months.

We need to keep doing all of what we started to do and above all:

  • collaborating online and use the tools that enable smart working
  • having short daily all-hands meeting
  • have online group meeting with groups from other parts of the world
  • host online talks from our favourite speakers
  • have a forum to collect and discuss ideas as a group
  • keep our wiki updated and continue to fill it in with info

We also need to go back in the lab and take our profile pictures for our group page, we know!

I am not sure whether we could have done more than we did; we could have hardly had done it better. And we will only realise in few months time when we will look back at this time and at the challenges we faced.

I am often tired at the end of the day, but then I look back at what we achieved during the day and I know why we are doing what we do – we like it, we are passionate about it, and I am very fortunate to work with the people I work with.

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