On average we spend around a third of our lives in our working environment, so it stands to reason that we want this to be an enjoyable experience. Research environments often require working closely with colleagues, or having to develop new working relationships, perhaps for collaborative purposes or simply starting a new position. Getting to know your colleagues is crucial in building trust, appreciating one another and ultimately being able to work together successfully. A lot of rapport-building activities can also be useful for strengthening CVs or contributing back into the community, whether it’s public engagement or volunteering. We asked researchers what sort of things they do to build rapport within teams and here are the most popular answers.

  1. Cake! A lot of you bake for one another, whether it’s taking turns for team-members’ birthdays, or simply having a weekly break together; this seems to be one of the most popular ways of improving morale in an easy and enjoyable way. And if you think your baking is better than most, why not do a charity bake-sale as a group?
  2. Away days. Lots of groups take time out, even if just annually, whether it’s a walk in the Peak District, a trip to a theme park, or having a more informative group conference, where progress and projects are discussed. Researchers note this can be tremendously worthwhile in still feeling connected and informed with your co-workers, and remembering the goals and positive contributions of your group.
  3. Public engagement. Many of us participate in public engagement events as an enjoyable group-activity, which helps communication, collaborative and organisational skills, whilst contributing to the community and the University’s social responsibility goals. There are many opportunities to get involved, even for just a day activity, such as volunteering for the Science Spectacular.

If you’re looking for further inspiration, there are other opportunities within the University to work with researchers and the public whilst making a positive contribution:

  1. Get involved with the Research Staff Association. The University of Manchester RSA was formed in 2011 to support and represent research staff from all faculties at the University of Manchester. It is run by researchers on a voluntary basis and all are welcome to attend their informal meetings and socials and to become involved in running the RSA.
  2. Volunteer! The University has numerous opportunities for volunteering within the community, ‘providing a sense of achievement, meeting new people and playing a greater role in your local community’.

  1. Join a green impact team! Green Impact is a national scheme to encourage staff and students improve their environmental performance. Those that do the best are awarded annually, ideal for the competitive amongst us! ‘Green Impact supports teams and departments to make simple, tangible and powerful changes in behaviour and policy through an online workbook of criteria’.
  2. Join the Incite team! Advertising for our editorial team aside (see a callout on page 7!), volunteering for Incite is a great way of networking cross-faculty, and the team-working and writing skills feed back into your own researcher development.

From Incite 18: building better relationships