The History of WST

Work Smarter Together is known to many people as the University-wide event that was held on 13th March 2014 in the UCD O’Brien Centre for Science. The event, hosted by the Library, IT Services and Registry, had three broad themes – the changing landscape of higher education, social media and ‘big data’ in the University context. An underpinning objective was to provide colleagues with an opportunity to come together to share, to learn and to celebrate their creativity and successes. Over 250 colleagues from across the University came together for the day.

And so it was that Work Smarter Together was born – the ‘work’ is the business of supporting the University’s education and research, the ‘smart’ is about creativity and innovation, and ‘together’ is our collaboration and sharing. UCD Agile’s objectives are very much focused on supporting the University community in this way and so Agile’s sponsoring of WST has come about.


Administrative staff attended an Association of University Administrators (AUA) event in UCD. The idea of bringing together staff from across the University to share their creativity, to get different perspectives, and to network was born.


In April 24 2012, the University Forum was hosted by UCD Registry in the Quinn School of Business. The themes were naturally driven by what Registry was involved in and who it worked with. Beyond this, the aim was also to provide a broader opportunity for colleagues from across the campus to meet and to share. This event paved the way for Work Smarter Together 2014 – “let’s have more people involved the next time we do this”.


On March 13 2014, Work Smarter Together was hosted by Registry, the Library and IT Services. The event showcased creativity and collaboration from across the university as well as bringing some outside voices to our ears. The three units involved gained hugely from the work required in making the event a success – the event committee, the volunteers from within the units, the preparation of the poster sessions, and the work which gave rise to the sessions’ content etc. While the event would not have been possible without the support of the units’ directors, its success was created by the energy and enthusiasm of colleagues working together towards the common goal of providing a great day for their colleagues, locally and across the University.


UCD Agile was formed in 2015, arising from the UCD’s 2015-2020 strategic plan. Agile took the opportunity to sponsor WST 2017 and to support Work Smarter Together in the longer term as a  community of practice within UCD. This is the community of those whose ‘practice’ makes the work of UCD possible. The important thing here is that WST pre-dates Agile – while Agile is a manifestation of the strategic plan, WST is the community in action, not something Agile can ever claim credit for.


WST 2017 ran on March 15 in the O’Brien Centre and brought 400 colleagues together for a sequence of three plenary sessions, two sets of five breakouts, and a poster exhibition.  We also ran a number of pre-event workshops on the March 14, with 500 sign-ups over the day and a half.  Over 60 colleagues came to our “Want to contribute?” information sessions in the lead in to the event, ultimately producing lots of rich content in the breakout sessions and with the posters. 

On 3 May 2017 the Registrar and Deputy President, Prof Mark Rogers, launched the WST Community of Practice.  (See here for more details on the WST CoP launch). CoPs are about colleagues in a given domain come together to build and share skills, to build and share knowledge, to build networks and to build recognition.  In launching the WST CoP the Registrar and Deputy President highlighted the CoP idea as a way of supporting and empowering the colleagues across the University who look to collaborate and innovate in shaping and developing UCD’s support ecosystem.  CoPs can be in a given skills domain, or amongst colleagues who do similar work, or who share an interest in a given kind of activity… or in any number of ways.


Lots of WST supported events, WST newsletters and events of the various CoPs have taken place since the 3 May 2017 launch of the WST CoP. Find out more about WST CoP here.


WST19 biennial event ran on 14 March 2019, with pre-event sessions running on 13 March.  The theme for WST19, overlaid on the constant ‘celebrating collaboration and creativity’,  was “Our people, shaping a better future”.   WST19 was about UCD colleagues, about navigating into the future, about how we shape change, and about how we always looks to make UCD a better place to teach, to research, to learn and to work.

The WST Summer School took place on 16th, 17th and 18th July 2019 and attracted over 170 people from across the campus. Two new CoPs were born – Chromotography CoP and Mass Spectrometry CoP.  Here is what happened at the event.

Our #UCDWST 23 October 2019 Event was a great success with over 120 colleagues from across UCD in attendance. We had two sessions – the first launching the new Project Management Community of Practice, the second looking at Lean Green – how the Green agenda can be supported by the thinking and approaches of Lean.

Check the CoP section of the website for Everything you need to know about CoPs in UCD.


Almost exactly a year after our WST 2019 biennial event, we found ourselves plunged into unprecedented times.    Work Smarter Together is a recognition of our strengths, our interdependencies, and the value we place in our colleagues.  It has always been an opportunity to show our appreciation for our colleagues and so recognise our commitment to each other and to our students. 2020 reminded us,  more than ever, of the need to recognise and celebrate our creativity, resourcefulness and collaboration. 

The first of our online events was the WST Summer School on 14-16th July.  We ran a series of sessions on:  PROSCI Fundamentals of Change Management, Workshopping remotely, The Value Proposition Canvas and Jobs to be Done, along with Lean White Belt and Yellow Belt training. We also had a chance to showcase the collaborations and success of the Unified Support Model  –  here you’ll find the presentations from the contributors.  

Next on our calendar of activities was the WST October Event  (on 22 October) with the apt theme of  Getting Things Done in the Distributed Office.   In the first session – Tales from the Distributed Office we heard presentations from colleagues across UCD highlighting the creativity and innovation that can arise from unusual circumstances. 

The WST October event dovetailed into our first collaboration with the Lean HE Global Festival, held on 19-23 October.  We were delighted to have three UCD contributions – from Michael Sinnott, Jeremy Britton and Olga Murdoch – accepted in the line-up.  Colleagues from UCD were joined from guests from the US, Canada, the UK,  and Brazil at the webinars.  Jeremy’s presentation – Running operations – innovative responses to customer needs and queries – was part of both the WST October event and the Lean HE Global Festival. 

As a result of work done by the USM Rollout Team and UCD Agile, 2020 saw the further development of the Distributed Office concept.  We are running training sessions designed to meet needs being identified by the UCD community on an ongoing basis, as we continue to adjust to – and to succeed in –  our remote-working world. 

Our latest Distributed Office training sessions will be regularly updated as 2021 progresses.