President’s address regarding remote work

Dear Skoltech community,

I would like to give my impressions of the first weeks of online work and make a few suggestions in this regard.

  1. I am neither a virologist nor an epidemiologist to make an expert forecast, but as I see it, the situation is getting steadily worse and is unlikely to get better in the coming months. This is my personal opinion based on web information. A born pessimist with no regrets about that, I am convinced that it is better to prepare for the worst and be delightfully surprised if things turn out better than you expected.
  2. There is no doubt that the new reality is here to stay, compelling us to adopt a new way of life and use all the pluses it can offer. The modern means of online communication (such as Zoom, which I think is a real wonder) enable highly efficient teamwork and require a minimum of user skills, while minimizing non-work-related time losses and offering virtually unlimited information exchange capabilities. The so called “asynchronous communication” allows you to communicate in “delayed mode”, for example, reply to your colleague’s question with a delay and have a minimum of external interruptions, which would hardly be possible in a physical office.
  3. I suppose that over the last two weeks all of us have realized that we need totally new work methods that have little to do with our customary practices. Here is what I suggest:
  • Everyone at Skoltech, regardless of their work position, should be reachable on workdays, keeping their telephones, computers and online communication apps on. I suppose this is a reasonable requirement which is not that difficult to comply with.
  • We should ensure good visibility of remote work results by choosing a system that best suits our needs from a multitude of performance monitoring software platforms that exist in the world. Let’s get started and, going through trial and error, find the right solution.
  • The current restrictions are especially tough on our teams engaged in lab research. I suppose the only reasonable way is to address the possibility, necessity and specific nature of our lab projects on a case-by-case basis. I very much rely on the decisions of our Provost, Professor Keith Stevenson, in this matter.

We should work out all these issues during the coming week.

Yours,

Alexander Kuleshov

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