Reminders toward Best Conduct
A list compiled by the PROMETHEUS board members
In charge of Gender and Equal Opportunity Leo Ducas and Octavie Paris
The purpose of this document is to list several recommendations regarding working relations between PROMETHEUS partners and members toward the success of the project and the wellbeing of its members.
It is partly motivated by the current sanitary conditions (COVID-19), that has pushed most of our interactions and events online, has confined members at home, and has shaken up our work habits and schedules. In these pressured conditions, it is easy to forget what we owe to each other, hence this list.
These recommendations are of course not limited to the current conditions, nor to online worklife. Many of them may read as obvious, and are meant to do so: these are reminders. They are meant to help us show the respect we have for our colleagues, knowing that we sometimes fail.
Therefore, this document invites us to reflect on each of those items, maybe by thinking of personal examples where we could have acted or reacted in a better way.
The list is certainly far from exhaustive. If there are items that you think would be worth appearing in this list, please suggest them to Octavie Paris and Leo Ducas.
• Saturdays and Sundays are not universal weekly holidays. In particular, two PROMETHEUS partners are located in Israel, where Friday is a holiday. In consequence, please avoid Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for scheduling meetings. We point to the fact that offering a weekly holiday as an option in a “doodle” is incidentally a form of peer pressure toward accepting to work on a holiday.
• Respect the right to disconnection of your colleagues; even for short answers, do not expect a same-day answer to an email. Keep in mind that your office hours are not universal.
• By all means, avoid “urgent requests”. When you make such a request, acknowledge your own lack of anticipation. If you are in middle management and receive such a request from higher management, protect your subordinates from potentially unreasonable expectations.
• Always set a latest end time for meetings, but do not hesitate to terminate early if the meeting has completed its purpose. Keep an eye on the clock and anticipate; if necessary interrupt ongoing discussion to have the time to wrap up.
• Be considerate regarding meeting fatigue. A good practice is to schedule only, for example, 50 minutes out of the hour block, so as to guarantee a 10 minute break to everyone who may have another meeting.
• Respect the right to privacy of participants, in particular by not pressuring them to the activation of the webcam. Assume that everyone is able to weigh advantages and disadvantages of video communication, given her/his own environment and resources.
• Avoid cutting off someone's speech. This requires extra care during audio and video conferences, due to lag and absence of non-verbal communication. Don’t be afraid of silences.
• The above principle is of course a balancing act with keeping the meeting on-track, productive, and civil. If you feel you should interrupt for these reasons, leave it another sentence to reflect on the precise reason for interrupting. State that reason when you do interrupt.
Disagreement is not a valid reason to interrupt: wait for the end of an argument before counter-arguing.
• Avoid monologues: do not assume that lack of interruption means that the room is interested or in agreement. Make sure that comments and questions can occur. If you’ve been speaking for more than 3 minutes straight, then you are doing a presentation, not participating in a conversation.
• The organizer of the meeting has the responsibility of guaranteeing adequate distribution of speech, civility, and productivity of the meeting.
• PROMETHEUS board members are concerned by the implication of all the participants with the same rights to take the floor whatever the career advancement. Juniors researchers are fully part of the dynamic of the project and we have to ensure them the opportunity to express their ideas.
• In case some communication was not possible during an on-live event (lack of time, shyness etc.) please do not hesitate to send -us the meeting participants an email to share your idea, / comment, or / critic. An interaction of trust is of main importance for the project advancement.
• When talking publicly in the name of PROMETHEUS (online, or during events), make sure that the defended position reaches consensus inside the consortium. Members are entitled to their independent opinions, but should be careful to distinguish it from the consortium’s one when they potentially diverge.
• Do not publish pictures, video, or audio recordings without explicit consent of the concerned persons (even if the photo is already publicly available online).