Each month, we ask people from across the Brigham to answer a question for our “Look Who’s Talking” feature. This issue, we’re asking: Which pandemic-acquired habits will you keep when the pandemic is over? If you would like to add your voice to the conversation, please submit a comment at the bottom of the page.

“The best professional habit I acquired has been writing from home without the unavoidable distractions in the lab and office environment. I think I will continue to work on grants and manuscripts from home, even for specific blocks of time during the work week. I also acquired two important personal habits that I plan to continue even if/when “outside opens” again. The first one is that I started taking long strolls around the Charles river since I live in Brookline, and made a point to watch the sunset, especially on warmer days. The second habit is having weekly zoom hangouts with my family, where we watch a movie together every Saturday afternoon. These continue to make me feel safe and connected in this chaotic pandemic.”
 — Sara Suliman, PhD, MPH, Immunobiologist, Division of Rheumatology, Inflammation and Immunity


“After the pandemic, I hope to continue all-season urban biking. This was initially spurred by my avoidance of public transport. I bought a new bike and used it nearly every day for my commute to work, regardless of weather. Great collateral benefit of the pandemic!”
 — Amar Dhand, MD, DPhil, Neurologist, Department of Neurology



“As a clinical researcher, I re-discovered the great tool: REDCap. We used it for e-consenting, online surveys, tracking progress, etc., which substantially improved our efficiency in recruitment and data collection. Thus, utilizing REDCap will be a professional habit that I would love to keep when the pandemic is over. I acquired some at-home workout equipment to maintain fitness when all the gyms were lockdown. Although I cannot wait to re-join a group fitness class, I also enjoy the flexible workout schedule provided by the at-home equipment. A healthy habit I wish to keep after the pandemic.”
— Jingyi Qian, PhD, Associate Physiologist, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders

“While virtual meetings have their pros and cons, they definitely have more pros so I will keep as many meetings as possible virtual to be more time efficient. And I will definitely be standing during those Zoom meetings! On a personal level, I plan on staying connected with family and friends all over the world. I will be attending all my siblings’ birthday parties virtually. For the first time in many years, all my siblings from three continents gathered virtually via Zoom for my brother’s birthday. We even got to blow out candles from miles away. It was awesome.”
— Jamil Azzi, MD, Associate Physician, Division of Renal Transplant


“I’ve learned to be intentional in fostering professional relationships virtually. While I am eager to grab coffee with a colleague, I’ve also recognized that the virtual workplace can lower the barrier to connecting with new people. I’ve been able to meet new trainees and establish meaningful collaborations with those that I haven’t met in person through Zoom — this can start just from a simple message of hello through a Zoom chat.”
— Cindy Liu, PhD, Principal Investigator, Departments of Pediatric Newborn Medicine and Psychiatry


“Here are a few things I plan to continue post-COVID-19: I plan to continue to support local restaurants by ordering take-out or reserving an indoor space. I also plan to continue supporting black-owned business by looking for services in my community. I hope to continue to have the option to work remotely, but welcome returning to the campus and seeing my colleagues.”
— Sarah Collins, Workforce Wellbeing Program Manager, Human Resources


“Like many people, I added a lot of video calls with friends, family, college classmates and others to my calendar. While I’m eager to see people in person again, I plan to keep up some of these virtual gatherings, especially with friends located around the country. Luckily, I made it a habit to carve out time away from the screen, too: hiking, skiing, and doing puzzles. I’m definitely going to make sure I keep that up after the pandemic! A small, but important professional habit I plan to continue after the pandemic is to slow down and really listen, especially when we’re kicking off meetings or greeting each other. How often did we used to ask how someone was doing when neither of us really intended to engage on the answer! I also plan to continue to use technology (e.g., screen sharing, video calls) to deepen collaboration with colleagues internally and with partners across the country.”
—Gezzer Ortega, MD, MPH, Instructor, Lead Faculty for Research & Innovation for Equitable Surgical Care, Center for Surgery and Public Health


“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I used to feel very badly about working from home here and there. I have realized, when possible, this is a win-win for me, my family, and perhaps even the environment in terms of my commute!”
— Rebecca Robbins, PhD, Associate Scientist, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders



“The current pandemic has taught us to work with more purpose and has given us the value of prioritizing. It has also taught us to relish slow but meaningful moments with friends and family that usually go unnoticed. I would like to keep all these acquired habits for ever.”
— Khalid Shah, MS, PhD, Vice Chair of Research, Department of Neurosurgery



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