What can we learn from 1970’s Big Science?
The world of big science in the 1970’s faced a challenge. Scientists knew that they would need ever larger and more powerful particle accelerators in order to explore the fundamental nature of the universe. Yet how to enable research teams around the globe to get access to these new, billion dollar machines? And how to run experiments collaboratively when the scientists were spread across the globe and across time-zones?
The history of how scientists responded tells us that it’s not just that remote collaboration has been a feature of some people’s working lives for many decades, but that the very challenge of finding ways of working remotely has been the spur to the creation of much of the technology that we take for granted today. It led directly to today’s internet, to the advent of emails, to electronic documents and document exchange and so much more.
We tend to think that the challenge of remote collaboration is a recently discovered challenge, highlighted and reinforced by a global pandemic and serial lock-downs. We also tend to see remote working as a constraint, and have an unspoken assumption that collaboration is far easier if we are physically together in person.
Yet seen in a different light, with a different mindset, facing into the challenges of how to work brilliantly when you’re remote, how to build teams when you don’t meet face to face, how to collaborate effectively across time zones can lead to deeply creative breakthroughs in ways of working, tools and processes.
"Remote work is the future of work." - Alexis Ohanian - Founder, Reddit