The Impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on STEM Workers or Professionals

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the Life Sciences Industry

Following our first blog on “COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and The Life Sciences Industry” ; we concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the life sciences industry. However, it also presented the industry with an opportunity to capitalise on rapid research and product development.

This blog is part of a 3 part series focused on what the effects of the imposed lockdowns, as a result of the pandemic have been on; Students, Graduates and Professionals (Workers). Expanding on the title, this part of the series will assess the lives and livelihoods of STEM workers, how they are coping with the pandemic and their new normal of work.

The STEM Workforce

Not all scientists wear white coats and work in labs. There are a wide variety of jobs and careers that require knowledge and application of science, from research to business and from regulation to teaching. The Science Council identified 10 types of scientists working today - can you identify yourself?

  1. Business Scientist - underpins management and business skills with scientific knowledge. In STEM companies with roles in R&D, marketing, and to the C-suite itself.

  2. Communicator Scientist - combines their science and technological know-how with an ability to communicate. With media roles, advertising, regulation and public affairs.

  3. Developer Scientist - uses the knowledge generated by others and transforms it into something that society can use. Typically found in research environments and may be working with Entrepreneur and Business scientists to help bring their ideas to market.

  4. Entrepreneur Scientist - make innovation happen. Typically start their own businesses.

  5. Explorer Scientist - on a journey of discovery, going where no one has gone before. Typically found in a university, research centre, or in R&D at an organisation.

  6. Investigator Scientist - digs into the unknown, setting the landscape for others to translate & develop. Typically found in a university, research centre, or in R&D at an organisation.

  7. Policy Scientist - uses their science, technical knowledge, understanding of government and policy making, to ensure that legislation and policy have a sound evidence base. Typically involved at many levels and in many environments including government and Parliament, NGOs, campaigning groups and charities.

  8. Regulator Scientist - reassure the public that food, medicines, systems and technology are reliable and safe, through monitoring and regulation. Typically found in regulatory bodies, such as the MHRA, FDA and in a wide range of R&D in organisations.

  9. Teacher Scientist - trained in science and shares their knowledge and understanding to train the next generation of scientists. Typically, works in academic organisations.

  10. Technician Scientist - provides operational scientific services in a wide range of ways. Typically found in laboratories and other support service environments across a wide variety of sectors.

15 Reasons to be a Scientist during COVID-19

COVID-19, is a crisis that has impacted everyone. As part of efforts to “flatten the curve” Countries around the world have imposed lockdowns, which has shuttered many businesses, and is becoming the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime. A deep global recession is unavoidable and workers on every continent are struggling to cope with the economic fallout. The impact of COVID-19 on STEM workers would encompass the above 10 types of scientists and that gives you workers who; can work remotely, are key/frontline, and lost their jobs or were in the process of finding a job. It is clear that the Scientific workforce is quite diverse, and so the impact of COVID-19 will vary. Many cons range from; the loss of jobs, risk of life to a far from ideal ‘work from home’ set-up and limitations with our current technologies to facilitate the global demand for remote working, but, we have decided to give you 15 reasons to be a Scientist during this pandemic:

Competency Development

  1. Project management - most organisations will have a COVID-19 plan which some employees will contribute to.

  2. Time management - most workers have developed a routine or come up with a balanced structure that allows for a healthy, work, lunch, exercise and parenting schedule.

  3. Prioritisation - During this uncertain time for all of us, businesses and workers have had to adapt their priorities. With additional tasks to the standard in most circumstances and as a result, have been able to effectively prioritise what projects or tasks are of value or critical and have mastered how to say no at the right time.

  4. Productivity - the combination of remote working (no time lost to commuting) and prioritisation of critical tasks, has minimised the number of distractions from a work perspective and so, many workers are able to do more in less time.

  5. Technical skills - increased training and use of softwares (Outlook, Zoom, WebExs, Teams etc.) and hardwares (computers, telephones, tablets etc.) to navigate the virtual working world.

  6. Public speaking & Presentation skills - increased use of cameras being on when speaking in meetings, increased requirement for creative ways of presenting virtually.

Opportunities for significant achievements

  1. Many opportunities for development for various workers. E.g. More technologically advanced colleagues, supporting others, More experienced colleagues supporting the team with their prior knowledge etc.

  2. An additional year of experience without the same standard expectations (KPIs) from employers.

  3. A lifetime opportunity to contribute to the needs of society.

  4. Opportunity to learn, by; pursuing another degree, professional courses and workshops.

  5. Opportunity to pause and review the impact on your current/perspective role and sector and decide/assess if your interests are still present.

Quality of life

  1. With worker well-being as the focus globally, many workers are; trying healthier recipes, exercising more and intentionally spending time off screens.

  2. Flexible working - Increased time with family, for non-key workers.

  3. An opportunity to observe your company culture and where they place their “people”.

  4. Finances - workers have been able to save more money due to less spending on personal outgoings (food, travel & entertainment).

So What Now?

Following this post, Wenite will engage with various science workers to learn about how COVID-19 has impacted their specific roles. To follow our journey, make sure you are following us on all our social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn!

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