Home offices of the DCPT research group.
The research group based at the Danish Centre for Particle Therapy has now been working from home for the greater part of a year. Looking back, it has been a challenging year, but creative solutions have facilitated the necessary adaptations to carry on research projects.
When looking around the fourth floor at DCPT, the offices are currently mainly empty. This floor houses the offices of around 50 researchers; professors, postdocs, PhD students, research assistants and administrative research staff.
Accommodating workspaces at home this past year required adaptations and creativity from the research group. Home office setups include dining tables, armchairs and window frames. One professor has found that working and spending more time outdoors can increase focus.
- Working from home, it was possible to mix work with physical exercise during the day and to enjoy more daylight. This was a big advantage, in particular during winter. I moved my office outside whenever the weather allowed for it, explains professor Kari Tanderup.
New ways of zooming in
As an international group with many projects and collaborators abroad, the researchers were already familiar with online meetings. A big change has been that all local meetings, including journal clubs and group meetings, were also converted to virtual sessions. The usual celebrations of new grants and publications, as well as welcoming new researchers in the group was replaced with virtual applauses and waves. PhD student Laura P. Kaplan reflects on online conduct:
- I miss the spontaneous office discussions. It still feels odd to invite a colleague to an online meeting just to run a small idea by them or ask them 'Do you think this plot looks good?'. On the plus side, I think we will all profit from learning good Zoom-etiquette and getting used to online meetings and conferences in the long run, says Laura P. Kaplan.
New virtual setups have opened the possibility of inviting more attendees for PhD defences and local seminars that e.g. include interdisciplinary Functional Imaging in Oncology (FIOL) seminars and newly launched national webinar series by DCCC Radiotherapy that has provided regular updates on developments from radiotherapy researchers across Denmark.
Wider international attendance
For international conference attendance, virtual formats have provided new opportunities to engage. Several research group members report that, with less travel time, they have been able to attend more international meetings.
One professor also reports a new experience with research stays abroad, that were converted into 'hybrids' combining physical presence for a limited time period when possible and dedicated online collaboration with regular virtual meetings and remote system access.
The only missing part from these virtual concepts is the essential face-to-face scientific discussions and networking, which has a different character when online.
- I really do miss my colleagues, Kari Tanderup states.