Enable Recite

Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:

Please enter your email address:

@

Your email address will only be used for the purpose of sending you the ITER Organization publication(s) that you have requested. ITER Organization will not transfer your email address or other personal data to any other party or use it for commercial purposes.

If you change your mind, you can easily unsubscribe by clicking the unsubscribe option at the bottom of an email you've received from ITER Organization.

For more information, see our Privacy policy.

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Cryoplant | First steps toward commissioning

    Every week since the beginning of November, a tube trailer filled with approximately 4,600 cubic metres (750 kg) of compressed gaseous helium delivers its load [...]

    Read more

  • Training | Seeking the next group of Monaco-ITER Fellows

    Recruitment opens for the next Monaco-ITER Postdoctoral Fellowship campaign on 17 January 2022. If your PhD was awarded after 1 January 2019—or you are about to [...]

    Read more

  • Contemporary art | Venet's "arcs" are as heavy as ITER coils

    A 'conceptual artist' among the most prominent on the art scene today, Bernar Venet is not impressed by massive towering steel structures like those in the ITER [...]

    Read more

  • Image of the week | Final activities on Europe's first sector

    The first vacuum vessel sector produced in Europe will arrive at ITER next year. Five of ITER's nine vacuum vessel sectors are the responsibility of Europe's AM [...]

    Read more

  • Vacuum vessel sector preparation | Lessons learned reduce work time by half

    In life as in the assembly of the ITER machine, 'lessons learned' are what makes progress possible. Gains in wisdom, time, skill, investment can be incremental; [...]

    Read more

Of Interest

See archived entries

ITER's New Normal

Learning from the COVID-19 experience

The onset and persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic has altered behaviours in every societal sector. At ITER, the complexity of the project and the involvement of 35 countries on three continents compelled the rapid formation of a continuity plan, designed to prioritize critical activities. It also provided opportunities for ITER partners to learn from each other, and—perhaps ironically—to also learn from the positive aspects of new ways of working, initially forced by the coronavirus. This, in turn, has shaped a "New Normal" at the ITER Organization.

Working toward an optimized blend of the physical ''brick-and-mortar'' versus ''digital'' workplace. (Click to view larger version...)
Working toward an optimized blend of the physical ''brick-and-mortar'' versus ''digital'' workplace.
Over the past five years, ITER has built a culture of risk and opportunity management, in which challenges are evaluated in terms of both their potential negative impacts and what positive lessons can be learned, and the embedded opportunity that may lie hidden within any challenge. This culture shaped ITER's response to the challenges of the novel coronavirus.

Clearly, COVID-19 forced multiple new ways of working: not only the social distancing, frequent handwashing, and facemasks that have become ubiquitous in 2020, but also the evaluation of each position—staff and contractor—among the 4,500 individuals who normally work at the ITER site. Whose presence is essential, and when? Which functions can maintain productivity while teleworking? What are the consequences, good and bad, of forcing more digitalization—paperless approvals, online meetings, remote collaborations?

Not long after the 16 March lockdown across France, many at ITER began to notice the unanticipated benefits of the lockdown: less time spent commuting; greater capacity to multitask; more reliance on electronic processes; and, for many functions, a net increase, rather than a drop-off, in productivity.

Staff-wide surveys confirmed these results. Director-General Bernard Bigot asked for a team to be set up, led by Chief Strategist Takayoshi Omae, to review the data, consider more innovation, and develop a forward-thinking plan to incorporate the lessons learned into a longer-term approach that would endure beyond the pandemic: a "New Normal" for the ITER workplace.

On 1 October, following a two-month trial period marked by more surveys and analysis, the ITER New Normal was officially launched. ITER Organization staff now telework up to three days per week, based on the mutual assessment of the individual and the line manager to optimize the work outcome. Flexibility is built in to accommodate job functions ranging from accounting and recruitment to oversight of construction and assembly. Online meetings and digitalized signatures and processes are becoming the standard, rather than the backup approach. A weekly ITER Bulletin keeps everyone informed of news and progress; in fact, many staff members say they feel more connected and better informed than in pre-COVID times.

The pace of ITER assembly remains as intense and focused as always. But the New Normal has brought unexpected benefits, extending to environmental friendliness and improved quality of life. To sum up, less paper and petrol, equal or better productivity, and a smarter workplace.


return to the latest published articles