04 December 2011
By Sarah Davies
Blanka wrote recently about the relaxation of discipline that can occur, in some offices or labs, when a PI is away, and we’ve also been talking about the presence (or not) of collegiality in the academy. Combining those two themes, I have to admit that I’ve always enjoyed the holiday atmosphere that tends to surface throughout December in the UK. Knocking off early for drinks, meals out with every possible permutation of social grouping (friends, officemates, department, family, research group, officemates whom you really like), and mince pies at coffee time are all grist to my mill: I think that most people work hard enough through the rest of the year to make a little relaxation during one twelth of it reasonable.
I’m disappointed to report, then, that this doesn’t seem to happen in Arizona – or at least the slice of it that I work in. Neither my department or research centre has any kind of Christmas do, and most staff simply vanish as soon as the students leave in early December. I won’t have eaten a single Christmas dinner until I get back to the UK on the 22nd: that’s how bad things are.
I think this is a shame – whatever you think about Christmas itself, it’s nice to socialise with your colleagues at least once a year. But maybe that’s hopelessly dated in these times of austerity, and the thing to do now is work straight through to the 24th, only stopping briefly to wish your colleagues the best of the season whilst turning the lab heating right down and sharing a couple of stale pieces of cake. So: will you be getting (or giving) any office Christmas parties? And, if so, do you love them or loathe them?