Coffee for Science, Cake for Fun

I have said before one of my favorite things about my new job is the coffee hours. Not only does this mean I never have to make coffee for myself and that I am regulating how much coffee I drink by being lazy but it is also a great built in way for new members of the department to get to know people and it fosters collaboration. It is easy for a student to ask a senior professor something simple as you can ask it casually at coffee hour. As I am not very good at remembering to go to coffee hour I have been setting alarms to remind me to stop working.

However, on Friday afternoon I need no alarm, partially because duh it is Friday but also because I eat a smaller lunch so I can have CAKE!

Today’s coffee hour was perfect, the cakes were wonderful and there were even a few that people had brought back from home to share (i.e., one from St. Petersburg) and there was lots of chocolate. But the best part was that because everyone comes to Friday coffee hour and everyone sits down for a while to eat their cake I got to witness 3 collaborations forming and 2 problems solved by helping each other. There was much catching up…”what have you been up to lately”, “oh I am annoyed ___ isn’t working” etc.

I really like this structured yet informal way to provide both socialization and collaboration. Is there a way this could be implemented in American research groups effectively? I am still pondering the ways…

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3 comments on “Coffee for Science, Cake for Fun

  1. Good to hear you’re starting to get into our Swedish “business habits”. Because this is not only for the research people. This is the way most Swedish business functions. Those Friday afternoon coffee (or Monday morning in some cases) are in many cases very productive AND nice little break.

  2. Too bad this doesn’t work too well when working at home alone… But I do set alarms as to not forget lunch and dinner, since no one is around to remind me. 🙂

    • I still have to do this even when there are people to remind me…I have a new “its been 5 min stupid” button on the front page of my smart phone that I am starting to train myself to use when I hit ignore on an alarm 🙂

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