rOpenSci | All About Coworking Sessions with rOpenSci

All About Coworking Sessions with rOpenSci

We first introduced our Coworking and Office Hour sessions in August 2021 after a successful pilot of several ’label-athon’s in the April and May prior.

We’ve had a successful couple of years since then and the coworking sessions have evolved into themed events with different community hosts and me as a facilitator. It’s been a lovely change and we thought it was time to share these updates with the rOpenSci community! 🎉

🔗 What are these sessions?

Our coworking sessions are generally held on the first Tuesday of the month, rotating through different timezones (Americas Pacific at 9am, Australia Western at 9am, and European Central at 14h). We meet on Zoom for two hours with introductions followed by two 40-min coworking sessions with a mini-break and scavenger hunts 🔎 in the middle. People join us from all over the world, and we generally have ∼7-14 people at a session.

A screenshot of a Zoom meeting showing 6 different video participants each holding something different: Decorated Easter egg, Sunglasses, Tulips, Allergy medicine, Sunbeam, and Touque*

April Scavenger hunt: Find something that reminds you of the season!
People shared a variety of findings from tulips to touques*, and sunshine to sunglasses!

* ‘Touque’ is Canadian for a warm knitted winter hat.

While coworking we have two ‘rooms’, a Quiet room (🤫) where I hang out and where people silently work on their tasks, and a Noisy room with the community host and where chatter is welcome (but not required).

Each session we have a theme and a shared document to hold ideas and links that people share.

The theme is only a guideline!
You don’t need to know anything about it, or be invested in it to participate.

As these events are in the rOpenSci community space, they are governed by our code of conduct (English/Spanish)

🔗 Coworking and Office Hours

Coworking: Working with others, but on your own work. A bit like a joint study session, where you can do some work, but also a bit of socializing.

Office Hours: A time when you can go chat with someone and ask questions.

We call these sessions Coworking and Office Hours because we have a bit of both, depending what you want for the day.

If you want to work on your own, you can join either the Quiet room for focused work, or join the Noisy room and work on your tasks while listening to the discussion and joining in as you like.

If you want to discuss things or ask questions, head over to the Noisy room and chat with the community host or other attendees. You can chat about the theme of the month or anything else you’re interested in.

The only rule of the Noisy room is to be kind!

🔗 Why cowork?

As I say at the start of nearly every coworking session, I live in a small town, and there aren’t many R enthusiasts around. Sessions like these are good for my soul as they really give me the chance to connect with other R developers/users which I don’t get every day.

Coworking helps reduce social isolation and gives you opportunities to socialize as well as accountability and motivation to work on projects that tend to be neglected or are hard to get started on.

🔗 Themes

Every month we try to have a different theme hosted by a community host interested in that theme. For example, in June we had “Integrating and merging datasets from different sources”, hosted by Cynthia Huang, a PhD Student working on principals and methods for data preparation and preprocessing; this July we’ll have “Create/Update your ‘happy file’/‘brag document’” hosted by Maëlle Salmon, rOpenSci Research Software Engineer; and in August “Spatial data in R” with Mike Mahoney, author of several rOpenSci spatial packages.

Check out the full list of themes and their corresponding coworking documents.

🔗 So you want to be a community host?


Community hosts don’t need to be experts in a theme, just interested! For example, in May I hosted the theme “Spring Cleaning for R Packages and Scripts”. I had never done spring cleaning, but it was an idea proposed by Maëlle and I was intrigued.

I handle the logistics of setting up the coworking session and host the Quiet room. Community hosts hang out in the Noisy room and essentially just chat with attendees. It can be a facilitated discussion, completely casual chit-chat, Q & A, or all of the above, as the vibe goes.

Don’t worry about having to know everything! If you have answers to questions, great! If not, just ask others if they know the answer, or do some joint web searching to see if you can come up with the answer as a group. If things are a little quiet a good tactic to get the conversation rolling is to ask others if what they think of the theme or what their familiarity with it is.

The only other tasks I will ask of you as a community host are to create a slide in our deck to introduce yourself (see example slides from this year, below), and to add any relevant links you can think of to the community document. We will promote the event on social media and in various R community spaces and you should feel free to promote the event to your friends and colleagues and through your own channels, but otherwise that’s it!

If you’re interested in helping me host a coworking session, contact me on the rOpenSci Slack, Mastodon, or via our Community Manager, Yani, and let me know if you have a theme in mind (or I can help come up with one).

Logistically you will need access to Zoom via a device (mobile or computer) and an internet connection. But beyond that, all you need is interest, kindness, and perhaps a bit of enthusiasm 😉!

🔗 See you next time!

I hope this update inspires you to check out our coworking sessions soon! We have a lot of fun and I always enjoy the chance to meet people ‘face-to-face’.