Monash University
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eResearch Community Continuity During a Pandemic: The MeRC Community Cohesion Strategy

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posted on 2020-10-27, 01:56 authored by Jane FrazierJane Frazier, Ai-Lin SooAi-Lin Soo

This presentation was given at the 2020 eResearch Australasia Virtual Conference, 19-23 October 2020.


The transition to an increasingly remote workplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to rapidly mitigate three key risks in the Monash eResearch Centre (MeRC) to ensure cohesive team operations and undisrupted support to researchers:

  1. The absence of common, remote internal communication channels to effectively replicate the coordination of operations in-office in a timely manner;
  2. The absence of a centre-wide channel for external key stakeholder and user communication to ensure standardised and timely notifications; and
  3. The inability to “self-serve” accurate stakeholder and user contact information for communication purposes across the centre.

As a result, a Community Cohesion Strategy and Team were established to address gaps that emerged in the operational management of MeRC as staff transitioned to a remote working environment, and to facilitate the rapid dissemination of key centre and operational updates to stakeholders. This drastic change in working environments provided a unique opportunity to implement a framework by which working-from-home arrangements and wellbeing of partially or fully remote teams might be supervised successfully.

In this presentation, we highlight the elements that were implemented to address these gaps, in accordance with a number of principal purposes. The strategies were a mixture of social and cultural changes as well as technological solutions.

The implementation of the Community Cohesion Strategy within MeRC resulted in the successful transition to a remote workforce supporting researchers at an unreduced capacity, and has improved operational management and preserved team culture that will extend beyond the initial duration of remote working.