Workplace Best Practices

The Rubin Observatory is a large multinational organization whose mission is to build and operate the Legacy Survey of Space and Time, the largest optical survey of the night sky. Rubin's community (both staff and scientific) are drawn from a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. Building and maintaining an open, respectful and inclusive community is a core value for Rubin and critical to its success. We, as an organization, are committed to providing an inclusive, safe, and productive environment for all team members and to all participants in any workshop, field testing, meeting, or event hosted or managed by Rubin Observatory. As we move from construction into commissioning and operations the challenges that we will face in maintaining an open and inclusive community will grow due to the pressures of work. This document is to provide a framework and a set of best practices for team members to help guide how we communicate in meetings, through email, and over Slack. We emphasize the importance of balancing our professional and personal lives in order to improve our physical, emotional well being. The recommendations are aimed at all members of the Rubin team.

Our Workplace Culture Values

Respect: At Rubin Observatory, we honor all viewpoints and new ideas as opportunities for discussion and learning, and therefore it is essential to treat others with respect, even in case of disagreement. Individual differences in background and perspective bring new ideas and solutions to the success of the project.

Kindness: Kindness is crucial in the workplace to strengthen individuals’ relationships, trust, and motivation, increase support between coworkers; and empower staff to express new ideas.

Trust: Trust that people’s intentions are good. We at Rubin are all working towards a common goal of building an amazing observatory that will lead to great astronomy discovery. Mutual trust is based on honest behaviors and will lead to a more inclusive workplace environment.

Honesty: We encourage honesty and open communication between employers, employees, and co-workers. It leads to effective relationships in an organization. It is important to keep our workplace free of rumors, negativity, and dishonesty.

Diversity: We at Rubin need to recognize and acknowledge people's differences to welcome new ideas and increase innovation and creativity. This can’t be achieved without respect.

Inclusion: All these elements allow for a more inclusive and welcoming workplace.

Resulting recommended guidelines


  • Remember that everyone is going through something you know nothing about. The norm is to act with kindness.
  • We are a multinational organization. As a result, express respectful interest in a co-worker’s background culture, language, and identity.
  • Treat co-workers as your peers.
  • Educate yourself before judging and accusing. Don’t use phrases like “no one has,” “this was never done,” “no one is working on this”... it is very likely someone has or is thinking about it, or is already working on it.
    • Instead ask what the status is, if documentation exists, and where it is located.

Meeting ethics

  • Always speak kindly and politely, no matter how informal the meeting is.
    • Be mindful of the impact of your words or the tone of your voice.
    • If you’re the receiver, inquire about the other person, assume they are under some stress and approach them with that understanding.
    • Pay attention to avoid using a negative tone, facial expressions, or body language
  • Try not to interrupt or talk over others. Apologize if you do and stop talking to let the other speaker finish. Use the “raise hand” feature in telecons.
  • Avoid dominating the conversation, use the WAIT method before talking.
  • Refrain from non-inclusive jokes.
  • If a participant observes inappropriate behavior, respectful intervention is appropriate.
  • Respect people’s time:
    • If you are the organizer, arrange an agenda and keep it on time and target.
    • If you are a participant, respect the agenda and use follow-up meetings to dive into details if needed.
    • If the meeting agenda is finished then finish the meeting, it does not need to extend to the full allocated time.
    • At the end of each meeting, ask yourself if it accomplished its objective and if it moved the team closer to Rubin Construction completion.

Emails ethics

  • Avoid writing a reactive email (for instance a response to an email that provoked anger or any negative emotions):
    • in a hurry. Write the answer somewhere else before pasting it to the actual email and sending it. Consider delaying sending until the next business day.
    • from your phone.
    • when you are tired or under a lot of stress.
  • If you write an email after hours, select the “send later” option in your mailbox (most recent versions of email programs have the option: outlook, gmail, Mac mail)
  • If you choose to send emails after hours or on the weekend, here are some suggestions if the email is not urgent:
  • Write drafts of the emails and send them during the next business hours
  • Bring your server offline until the next business hours
  • At the minimum add a sentence saying: “This is a convenient time for me to send this email. I am not expecting an answer until your business hours”

Slack ethics

Avoid sending slack messages out-of hours (if you are working irregular/non-business hours, there is an arrow to the right of the “send” button that allows you to send the message later.)

Work-life balance

  • Leaders should define clear priorities so that team members know where to focus their effort.
  • Supervisors should encourage employees to approach them to discuss solutions if their workload is becoming stressful or negatively affecting their home life, and employees should feel empowered to do so.
  • Try and schedule uninterrupted time of non-work related activities during which you turn off notifications (physical activities, dinner, doing nothing, time with family…. )
  • You are not expected to work more than your official work hours; working more hours does not mean you accomplish more than your peers.
  • Take regular vacation days; you are allotted a certain amount every year and you deserve days off to rest, recover, and enjoy things outside of work.
  • Remember that the happiest and most productive employees don’t work themselves into the ground.
  • Other suggestions are welcome either by contacting the WCA team ( or using the anonymous link (

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Financial support for Rubin Observatory comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Support Agreement No. 1202910, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  The DOE-funded effort to build the the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.   

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