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Monthly Poll | Conference Networking: In-Person and Virtual

By SRAI News posted 04-06-2021 03:37 PM


Monthly Poll | Conference Networking: In-Person and Virtual

We had a fantastic number of responses to last month’s poll about our physical working locations.  While the vast majority of us, 73%, are still working from home 100% of the time, 14% are splitting their time between home and work and 13% have returned to the office 100% of the time.  My team is still working remotely full time and finding it professionally productive and personally rewarding. I know my campus is not the only one considering making this full-time remote work a permanent feature for our departments. 

For so many of us the question is no longer when will life return to what it was before the quarantine but has instead become what will life look like after this quarantine ends?  We have all realized a multitude of benefits from working remotely from home this year.  You all shared some amazing perspectives on this.  Over a third of you mentioned an improvement in self-care, ranging from healthier sleep cycles to better work/life balance, to healthier eating habits and workout routines.  Just under a third of you specifically mentioned the lack of a commute as one of the biggest benefits of working remotely from home.  This one resonates with me.  I was one of those people who spent three hours of every workday commuting.

Many of you also mentioned spending more time with your family. One member was able to move her elderly mother in with her. Another member mentioned enjoying lunch with her husband. More access to professional development and more time for advanced learning also came up in your responses. Some of you are focusing on the cost savings of not commuting and not paying to park on campus. Some of you are focusing on spending money on newer computers and well-appointed home offices. One member praised their organization’s complete transition to a paperless workflow process. Another member highlighted actually seeing Investigators more often on Webex instead of just communicating through emails and phone calls.

It’s time to think about how we can take advantage of these new digital skills we’ve fine-tuned in isolation. By May of last year, Zoom fatigue was a real thing for so many of us. Is there still a place for digital meeting platforms once in-person meetings can happen again?  It’s hard to imagine that we’re going to abandon the ease of access and cost savings realized by moving a large in-person conference to a digital format.  How do we replicate the spontaneous communication and networking that happens at annual meetings when they are being held in digital formats?  How do we create the “lunch table” space in an online format or strike up a conversation with the person seated next to us in the breakout session room?

Here's what I’d like you to tell me this month: What do you typically do with your break time between sessions when you’re at a large conference or meeting? If a conference is held on a digital platform such as Zoom, which way would you rather see networking included? What other ideas do you have for making large format digital conferences more engaging between and beyond the keynote speakers and breakout sessions that we all value so much?

Complete the poll and let us know your thoughts!


Authored by Heather Brown, Grants and Contracts Administrator
Duke Human Vaccine Institute