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Monthly Poll | Engagement with Remote Work

By SRAI News posted 12-09-2021 09:24 AM


Monthly Poll | Engagement with Remote Work

We’ve been talking about turnover and burn out in our field for many years now.  Many of you are either seeking a new opportunity or sitting on search committees looking to hire the right person to join your team.  Last month we asked you a few questions to explore the skills and traits of a successful Research Administrator.  We asked you to first share what skills and traits you have found to be the most helpful in your own careers.  Some of the common responses were flexibility and adaptability; attention to detail and being organized; using and enjoying Excel.  The responses that really resonated with me focused on translation and problem solving.  Everyone wants to be good at communication, but I think translation is an often undervalued communication skill.  Whether you’re translating federal regulation or a request from a PI, there is unsung value in being able to take in information and break it down in different terms to be easily understood by yourself, your colleagues, and the researchers you support.  An aptitude for translation is also intrinsic in problem solving.  As a problem solver, you’re looking at a set of data points that don’t work and translating them into a plausible scenario, translating or finding a way to “yes”. 

We also asked you to share your definition of success.  What does it take to be successful in this field?  Around half of respondents defined success in terms of their PI, helping PIs remain compliant, not having PI complaints, establishing a rapport with the PIs, etc.  Many of you define success by meeting deadlines, being proactive as often as possible, understanding and juggling the many layers of rules and regulations that we work within.  The response I found most insightful, was from one member who defines success by knowing how to find information.  Not KNOWING the information, rather knowing how to FIND the information.  There are more overlapping and conflicting rules and regulations than any one person can truly know.  And just when you think you know the answer, the rules change.  But we know where the rules live and we learn how to drill down through mountains of legalese to find the nugget of gold that we translate for our researchers, their staff, and our colleagues. 

When we asked you to tell us what you look for in a candidate, it’s not surprising to see many of the qualities and skills discussed above.  But the response that caught my eye on this question was the member who said they look for candidates who are not afraid to ask for assistance.  That seems like such a simple quality.  But it’s not easy to ask for help.  I find it easy to ask questions when I don’t know or understand something.  But to ask for assistance requires a vulnerability in the workplace that many find challenging. 

This month’s poll focuses on how we stay engaged while working remotely. Are you an extrovert that’s going crazy or finding innovative ways to connect with colleagues? Are you an introvert that is rejoicing in the productive solitude of remote work?


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