25 Work From Home Tips for Scientists

By Jennifer Tsang

Are you a grad student, postdoc, or bench scientist who began working remotely recently? Most of us at Addgene began working from home last week to flatten the curve, but working remotely can be more difficult if your work is based in the lab.

If you’re unsure what to do during this period, check out these tips and resources collated by Addgenies to help you keep calm and science on.

Practice self-care and stay connected

  1. Find time for exercise. Many studios and gyms are now offering online classes and participating in these is a great way to support your favorite local exercise spot or find something new. We usually have yoga class twice a week at Addgene HQ, but now we’re sharing links to online yoga classes.
  2. Get outdoors. Taking a walk or a bike ride is a great activity for both exercise and clearing your mind. And because the outdoors is so huge, these are activities that you can easily do while staying away from others. 
  3. Meditate. Meditating during the day is a great way to take a mental break, while meditating right before bed will help you prepare for sleep. At Addgene, our mindfulness group is sticking with their Headspace practice even while working remotely.
  4. Social distancing? Many people are now calling this “physical distancing” since it’s important to stay virtually connected with the people in your life. At Addgene, we’ve started virtual activities like team lunches, a virtual soup lunch, and sharing photos of our pets.
  1. Give back to your community. For those of you who have the desire and ability to, some communities are looking for bench scientists to assist in labs that are testing for COVID-19. You can also give back by supporting local businesses (ex: purchasing a gift card to use later or ordering take-out) or volunteering to foster a pet, for example.
  2. If you are looking for some resources specific to self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out Care For Your Coronavirus Anxiety and Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health.

Work on personal development

  1. Take the myIDP (individual development plan) from Science to identify skills to work on for the next steps in your career.
  2. Update your resume and CV.
  3. Attend virtual workshops and webinars.
  4. Share your work online. Maybe you’ve always wanted to start using social media professionally but haven’t had the time until now. 
  5. Network. There’s a lot of networking you can do online. See if a scientist or someone you’re connected with would like to do an informational interview with you, or look for professional societies hosting virtual networking events.
  6. Download Addgene’s Science Career guide to learn more about career paths and things you can do to prepare.
open laptop on a desk with a bookshelf in the background

Adapt to WFH while parenting

  1. Keep your kids on a schedule so you can rely on nap times, after bedtimes, or before they wake up for time to do your own thing. Build as much flexibility into your work schedule as possible so that you can adapt to your kids' needs.
  2. Plan ahead. Think about and set up activities that kids can do more independently. For example, they could do something like puzzling or crafts, while listening to podcasts made for kids. Plan out meals and snacks ahead of time. 
  3. Find learning activities for kids. For example, Skype a Scientist is now open to families at home, the STEM career exploration site Inventing Heron has a radio reporter challenge, and code.org has coding tutorials for all ages.

Organize your data and prepare publications or your dissertation

  1. Organize data that you already collected into figures for papers or presentations.
  2. Learn a new skill for analyzing and visualizing your data, such as R or Python.
  3. Write a manuscript. If you have all the data you need to begin writing a full paper, that’s great. Otherwise, you can begin working on these drafts and for a few model organisms, Micropublication will accept negative data or publish brief, novel findings. Most Micropublications contain one figure. If you aren’t there yet, write introductions to potential publications or prepare a review article. These are both options that can be done without having access to your lab or even needing to have collected data.
  4. Work on your dissertation, even if your defense isn’t for a while. Getting started early on introductions and literature reviews could make the months leading up to your defense less stressful.

Think about reproducibility best practices

  1. Support your future experiments and other researchers by implementing reproducibility best practices in your research. For a place to start, check out Reproducibility for Everyone.
  2. Plan out new experiments carefully. Consider submitting a registered report, where peer review is based on the methods, not the results. Also consider using this framework to design your future experiments. 
  3. Use Addgene’s AAV Data Hub. You can search the AAV Data Hub for tools to use in future experiments. If you’ve used Addgene’s AAV tools, you can contribute data to the AAV Data Hub to help the research community.

Set expectations for your productivity

  1. Set a routine and stick to it. Plan defined work hours as well as time for breaks to stretch, eat, and rest. Try the Pomodoro Technique or the Flowtime Technique.
  2. Co-work virtually. With co-working, the idea is not necessarily to chat, but to mimic your usual work environment. 
  3. Be kind to yourself. This is a challenging period for everyone for numerous reasons, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to be as productive as you would be in a normal situation.

For some other resources on working from home, check out She Geeks Out, Science, or Resources to Engage Kids at Home. It’s normal and okay to feel overwhelmed right now, but hopefully these tips are helpful to you no matter what you’re trying to accomplish during this period.

Download Addgene's science career guide

Topics: Science Careers, Professional Development

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