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At the Scientific Information Service, organization against isolation

From their homes, members of the Scientific Information Service continue to provide access to library resources however possible

Socializing at CERN during teleworking
Alex Kohls toasts with colleagues via videocall during the confinement period (Image: CERN)

Generalised teleworking brings with it its share of surprises and challenges. To cope with them, CERN's various teams are getting organized. As part of our series of articles, we will report on the methods and tricks of the CERN community in virtual mode.

We begin our overview with the Scientific Information Service (SIS) and its 35 members divided into four sections (Archives, Library, Inspire and OpenScience). While the physical library is closed, all requests related to online resources and open access to science are processed. Two channels have been created on Mattermost to handle these requests, accessible here and here. Thus, almost everyone in the service continues their work, business as usual. The Inspire team took up the challenge of launching the new version of the platform during this exceptional period, helped by its many experiences of remote collaboration. Even the SCOAP3 (open access) project workshops, involving partners from the American west coast to China, went off without a hitch. “With a split screen between video conferencing and mind map software, everything went smoothly,” smiles Alex Kohls, head of the SIS Group.

However, Alex Kohls is aware of the challenges of teleworking for him and his colleagues. First of all, the challenge of structuring working days, which cannot be solved by IT. It is more difficult for some people to keep work and private life separate when both take place in the same place. Alex Kohls encourages self-discipline and dialogue to avoid such a harmful overlap.

Dialogue is also crucial in dealing with the most tangible danger, which is the loss of contact within the team: “Before the period of confinement began, we asked ourselves how best to preserve team spirit and combat isolation. Because the relationships that develop at the office are not only professional, they are, above all, social relationships.” Alex Kohls took advantage of the digital offer - Mattermost and videoconferencing - to maintain working relationships and meet up for convivial moments. The drinks between colleagues could thus be saved by the magic of digital technology.

If you would like to share your solutions for remote working, contact us: internal.communication@cern.ch