# What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your job?

• COVID
Hi everyone! I wanted to pose this question to all of you and ask you what impact the current COVID-19 pandemic has had on your job.

In my personal case, the impact has been fairly minimal. As a biostatistician for a consulting firm for the pharmaceutical industry (and who has been working from home continuously for the past 5 years, and working remotely for the past 10 or so years), not much has changed for me specifically. I have seen certain clinical trials that I have been involved with (non-COVID-19 related) been impacted due to lack of access to clinical sites, but this has been offset with other projects and work that has continued to proceed. And (surprisingly, given the current circumstances) I am still getting contacted from hiring managers and recruiters for open positions in statistics/biostatistics.

I'm curious about your experiences. Have you been laid off, or witnessed layoffs in your workplace? Critical projects postponed? Or minimal impact? I would greatly appreciate your sharing of your experiences.

Thanks, and stay safe!

Wrichik Basu, russ_watters, member 587159 and 1 other person

## Answers and Replies

Mondayman
I move dead people, and there hasn't been much of a noticeable change. We haven't been going to old folks homes any more than before. Disease and cancer still lead the way.

Crime seems to be down a bit. But I'm personally expecting there to be more suicides in the coming months with the economy being the way it is.

Adesh, Leo Liu, Wrichik Basu and 3 others
homeylova223
I work as a tutor and so I am transitioned to online tutoring. This crisis still effect me however.

atyy and StatGuy2000
So far it's been relatively minimal impact (right now I'm 49/51 faculty and administration)- I'm grateful for continuing paid employment. The most significant impact to my career has been the shuttering of my lab for the past 10 weeks: while I can't do any of my NIH-funded research (and my students can't, either), I am able to keep some research effort going for two students with computational projects.

atyy, Klystron, russ_watters and 2 others
Gold Member
I was typing away in an old office with my back to the window.
Now I'm typing away in my backyard, watching the birdies at my feeder while I smoke stogies.

I was getting up a 7:30 and getting home at 6:00 while spending an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic twice a day.
Now I'm getting up at 8:55 and home again at 5:01 and life couldn't be better.

Wife 'n I have proven we can work effectively at our jobs from home.
When we are given the all-clear to return to work, they're going to have a RFEALLY tough time convincing us to slog back into the office.

mathwonk, Andy Resnick, Klystron and 4 others
Mentor
I'm retired (mostly) but am teaching a couple computer science classes a year (mostly computer architecture with assembly programming). The one I'm currently teaching had only 7 students sign up, so I was certain it would be canceled due to low enrollment. To my surprise and a bit of chagrin, the administration let the class go, and three weeks in, the class is down to 5 students.

The big change is doing the class entirely online, via Zoom. So far, it's gone reasonably well, other than a few small glitches. The students have "attended" every time so far. First exam is tomorrow, so I'll get to see if they're picking up what has been presented.

Saves on commuting, but I would rather be in a classroom.

atyy, Klystron, member 587159 and 1 other person
Gold Member
I was just transitioning jobs. The company I switched to was among the first to send their employees home for work from home arrangement. It was my first week and so the impact has changed my introduction and I can tell it has created a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the company policies. The first two weeks was really slow and I was doing almost nothing- I definitely kept my manager in the loop letting them know I'd like to work more and pull my weight. They delivered. Now: I've been pretty busy 7 days a week. To my surprise they pay overtime for my position so I've been very comfortable.

The previous company I was working for I had heard from friends that people tested positive for the virus, but they took a long while to send a lot of people home. Many of the positions are considered essential and some people could not work from home. Some of my friends have told me it's slow and concerning although I have not heard anyone losing their jobs yet.

atyy and StatGuy2000
Gold Member
I live and work in London and we had to shut our lab down on the 19th of March (a few days before the lockdown) and my team has been working from home ever since. Very occasionally someone will be allowed to pop into the lab or office to get something and/or check on a piece of kit but this requires special permission. At the moment only "critical" functions are up and running where I work.

A few days into the lockdown we converted our spare bedroom into an office for me. I'm working from there, my wife has our "regular" home office in the sitting room (she works in IT so works from home a lot even under normal circumstances) and my step-son is studying (or so he claims , his university exams were cancelled) in his room.

I manage a team of 4 people +2 PhD students so a lot of time goes into management duties (planning, re-scoping, objective settings etc). Under normal circumstances I rarely need to "manage" people as such since most members of my team are motivated senior scientists; they don't need daily supervision.
However, for the past few weeks I've found myself having to go into full "management mode" much more often and I've spend a lot of time just trying to maintain moral and talking to people. So far so good, we have data to analyse and a bunch of papers to write, but I do worry about what will happen if there isn't at least some lifting restrictions in the next 4-8 weeks. At the moment we are hoping to be able to start doing a bit of experimental work in July and be up and running in September; but this is qualified guess

I spend 90% of my time in my office or in meetings even under normal circumstances so the only real difference now is my meetings are all virtual (usually Microsoft Teams or Zoom). What I miss the most is being able to pop down to the lab and e.g. help one of the students (or even do some science myself).

I am very lucky in that my team and I have plenty to get on with and so far we are doing OK.

berkeman and StatGuy2000
Locrian
I'm in decision science at a very large entertainment & media company. This has hit our business very hard - revenues dropping by 100% or more (can be negative!) for most lines of business, resulting in very large furloughs that have made national news.

I'm still at work, but I did have to furlough half my team.

Mentor
I do mechanical engineering for pharmaceutical companies. In February my company moved to a long-awaited new office, with upgraded IT infrastructure including an IP based phone-messaging-meeting platform. We'd be screwed without it.

I have a good home-office setup, so moving to working from home has been relatively painless, it's just taking some getting used to. Some non-critical construction projects have been halted, but obviously the pharma-industry is fairly critical so most work continues. We've even had some new work directly related to COVID-19. But every economic downturn causes a general construction slowdown, which will impact my industry eventually -- when the "real" recession happens.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I continue to have full-time employment.

I was coordinating first-year labs (taught by grad students), teaching second-year labs, and teaching a general astronomy course when face-to-face stopped. We only had one experiment left in both first and second-year labs, which we decided to disregard. I had been using PowerPoint for astronomy, and I continued to do this online from my my man-cave (er, I mean home office) in our basement using Blackboard Collaborate.

Every year, my province has a meeting of universities and community college that offer any university-level physics courses, and I am our representative. The venue changes city every year, but the 2020 meeting will be held tomorrow online, again using Blackboard Collaborate. There will be much discussion about what will be acceptable as transfer credits in the present circumstances.

One of our faculty members retires at the end of June, and I am on the hiring committee for his replacement. We were about to fly in the final thee candidates when shutdown occured. I have no idea how this is now going to play out, but we are a small department, and we were counting on the new faculty member to teach in the fall.

Homework Helper
Having retired after working over 50 years, I have no current job. The impact is not being able to meet doctor's appointments to keep health issues under control, but some of those are going online. Both our children have transitioned their work online successfully for now. We are all ok, but I worry the few good restaurants in our area may disappear.

Gold Member
I had to cancel a photo exhibit and some of my prints are stranded at the framer who had to close suddenly. So I am going through photo files for a new exhibit instead. Don't know if it will happen any time soon though. Staying home, enjoying the beautiful Springtime, going out occasionally for supplies.

Some of the local artists think we should open a gallery with limited access - only a few people allowed in at a time. Many people here supplement their income with art.

The virus has hurt the creative drive.

I have a couple friends who are without income now. I am praying no-one goes down. I help when I can giving work and cash.

My son is working full time in New York City. He has no choice. My daughter is holed up in our apartment . NYU is asking her to pay tuition on time for the Summer semester which has been postponed to an uncertain future date. Huh? She does not know when she will graduate.

Here is an article I found that describes a pandemic catalyzed financial crisis in higher education. I wonder what the academics here think of it. I found it disturbing.

https://thecollegepost.com/coronavi...JOlBAKbnu2kg16obJBgHffVDUytus-KYYWokzvt3rNPHQ

Last edited:
Klystron
Mentor
Fixed-term contracts in academia get a lot of hate (for a good reason), but these days they mean a guaranteed job until the end of that contract - and extensions are likely as hiring someone new is more difficult.
Particle physics: Work in the lab that is not urgent has been shifted, some work there can be done remotely. It depends on the specific work: Is there something where safety is a concern (e.g. high voltage), can every lab device be controlled remotely, does the test need cables or other hardware to be changed. Most of the work is done at a computer anyway, so we now work at home instead of coming to the office. Meetings are all done remotely even if most people work at the same place. Overall it's not a big impact. In the long run we'll have to see how the funding situation changes.

I'm in decision science at a very large entertainment & media company. This has hit our business very hard - revenues dropping by 100% or more (can be negative!) for most lines of business, resulting in very large furloughs that have made national news.

I'm still at work, but I did have to furlough half my team.

@Locrian, are you personally concerned about being furloughed or even laid off yourself? If so, given your background in data science, have you considered carrying out a job search of your own? It seems that data science positions are still in relatively high demand in spite of the pandemic (although I could be mistaken).

Locrian
I feel safe for the moment, but at the same time I'd be doing my family a disservice if I wasn't watching the job market.

You could do worse than to be looking for data/decision science work right now, but it's still not great. Many companies have shed their analytics departments, and vast swaths of the market are in hiring freezes. So while there are certainly a number of jobs available out there, the competition is suddenly fierce. In February the whole world was my oyster, and there was nowhere to go but up. In May. . . well, I bet I could secure something, but it might not be a step forward in my career.

And holy cow am I super glad I'm not graduating into this mess. My heart breaks for folks graduating around this time.

StatGuy2000 and Klystron
Homework Helper
My son in the tech industry, serving a wide range of businesses, large and small, has not yet had to lay off anyone on his extensive team, but there is a hiring freeze, and he worries about the financial health of some of his smaller customers.

On the other hand, I just received concerned communication from a friend in the academic world that layoffs are planned for teaching faculty at the university, starting with the hard working low paid untenured staff but posssibly extending to tenured faculty as well. This seems to be going on at many colleges, especially smaller ones. The report below that the university president at Ohio Univ. makes less than the basketball coach, but still accepted a pay cut down to a little over $400,000, reminds me of my days in academia. https://www.athensmessenger.com/spo...cle_2a31cc4e-2287-527e-a7de-6c1e70dda1eb.html here's another article on probelms in academia: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/05/01/us/bc-us-virus-outbreak-higher-education.html?searchResultPosition=7 I remarked earlier that I was impacted by missing my doctor's visits. The reverse of that is that our friends in the medical profession are losing business big time. The pediatrics office my wife retired from has laid off 1/3 of its staff recently, and others of her acquaintance in private practice have seen large dropoffs in business. Last edited: Education Advisor Gold Member I was typing away in an old office with my back to the window. Now I'm typing away in my backyard, watching the birdies at my feeder while I smoke stogies. I was getting up a 7:30 and getting home at 6:00 while spending an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic twice a day. Now I'm getting up at 8:55 and home again at 5:01 and life couldn't be better. Wife 'n I have proven we can work effectively at our jobs from home. When we are given the all-clear to return to work, they're going to have a RFEALLY tough time convincing us to slog back into the office. I'm hoping that a side effect of COVID-19 is that folks who proved themselves reliable in working from home will have the opportunity to continue doing so. Think of the easing on traffic, fuels costs, wasted time, and business costs of maintaining the extra office space. I expect lots of folks proved their potential productivity from home. I also expect some folks demonstrated their productivity is higher in a traditional work environment. StatGuy2000, cnh1995, Locrian and 1 other person Gold Member I expect lots of folks proved their potential productivity from home. I also expect some folks demonstrated their productivity is higher in a traditional work environment. And - not to put too fine a point on it, but - employers will have a much more difficult time claiming that remote working is untenable. OmCheeto Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Education Advisor employers will have a much more difficult time claiming that remote working is untenable. I'm not so sure about that. We are seeing up close and personal its very real limitations. Mentor I'm not so sure about that. We are seeing up close and personal its very real limitations. Yeah, we're definitely seeing pros and cons. And many big corporations have over the past 10 years adopted strategies to encourage people to work remotely, such as not having enough desks for everyone (and none assigned). For certain types of jobs it works well, but if you have to collaborate in a team or obviously your job involves equipment (labs...) it is a problem. Over the past two days I had a runner take 4 attempts to plot and deliver me a set of drawings. Science Advisor Gold Member I've been working 1-2 days a week at the house. That is all the bandwidth my position can handle. Now that they're trying to get me to do more senior type design work and less in the weeds hands on, I have to be in the office 5 days a week (I work for a DoD contractor and we are deemed essential). Bonus is that I get some help doing the mundane model prep (surfacing and meshing), which I love to do, but I get to teach some of the young pup's just how to do it right the first time. Last edited: Klystron and berkeman Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Education Advisor such as not having enough desks for everyone (and none assigned). I have a friend who works for an unnamed government agency doing top secret work. Same deal there, but it's not for telecommuting. It's so nobody goes home with any work still on their desks. Apparently there's also quite a line at the vaults at the beginning and end of every business day. Science Advisor Gold Member My son in the tech industry, serving a wide range of businesses, large and small, has not yet had to lay off anyone on his extensive team, but there is a hiring freeze, and he worries about the financial health of some of his smaller customers. On the other hand, I just received concerned communication from a friend in the academic world that layoffs are planned for teaching faculty at the university, starting with the hard working low paid untenured staff but posssibly extending to tenured faculty as well. This seems to be going on at many colleges, especially smaller ones. The report below that the university president at Ohio Univ. makes less than the basketball coach, but still accepted a pay cut down to a little over$400,000, reminds me of my days in academia.

https://www.athensmessenger.com/spo...cle_2a31cc4e-2287-527e-a7de-6c1e70dda1eb.html

here's another article on probelms in academia:
https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/05/01/us/bc-us-virus-outbreak-higher-education.html?searchResultPosition=7

I remarked earlier that I was impacted by missing my doctor's visits. The reverse of that is that our friends in the medical profession are losing business big time. The pediatrics office my wife retired from has laid off 1/3 of its staff recently, and others of her acquaintance in private practice have seen large dropoffs in business.

Thanks for these articles @mathwonk. This is scary. I went to the emergency room last week and was the only - no exaggeration - only person in the waiting room. The doctor who treated me said that emergency rooms are empty around the country.

On the other side, my sister in law who is a physician is completely deluged with Covid-19 victims. She has lost many of her long time patients.

Last edited:
berkeman
Homework Helper
Yes my wife had an online vist tonight with her doctor and they mainly chatted about the current situation because the doctors are so bored. He said his ER colleagues in particular, who usually get hassled by a lot of nonsense visits, are doing nothing and really bored. Of course there is no great loss that the "sniffles visits" are down, but are other people not getting necessary care? And although her doctor was glad he has a hospital based, hence stable, job, the private practice physicians we love using may be going out of business.

I am very sad for your sister in law and her patients. We do not feel it as much here directly in a rural area that has few cases and has benefited from isolation guidelines relatively early.

Gold Member
Yes my wife had an online vist tonight with her doctor and they mainly chatted about the current situation because the doctors are so bored. He said his ER colleagues in particular, who usually get hassled by a lot of nonsense visits, are doing nothing and really bored. Of course there is no great loss that the "sniffles visits" are down, but are other people not getting necessary care? And although her doctor was glad he has a hospital based, hence stable, job, the private practice physicians we love using may be going out of business.

I am very sad for your sister in law and her patients. We do not feel it as much here directly in a rural area that has few cases and has benefited from isolation guidelines relatively early.

She has been hit hard. Yes rural isolation works. Out here you have to get in the car and go to town if you want to see another person. Strangely a lot of people are doing the wrong thing, not wearing masks or gloves, disrespecting the six feet away rule. Not sure why. A small number - or maybe not that small a number- are conspiracy theorists who believe this is a big government move towards control. Others don't trust health authorities and reject much of main stream medicine. Some think their Constitutional rights are being violated. Some people just think they are invulnerable. So I have to be extra careful in markets and often wait until groups of people clear out.

Last edited:
Klystron
Gold Member
I'm an expat in China, my employer makes mocap systems and I develop algorithms for the mocap software. We were told to work from home in Feb, and gradually moved back to working in the office since the second half end of that month. We were affected by canceled exhibitions like MWC, and a lot of clients are schools in China, those had to stop for a while and cash flow in the company got tricky. Our payrise got delayed for a couple of months, which isn't too bad I suppose, I heard some companies had to stay alive through paycuts.

The law of the city still require face masks and temperature readings to go into any public buildings e.g. metro stations, offices, supermarkers. Everything else has gone back to normal. I do need to pay more attention to my oral hygiene, otherwise, with the facemask, I need to deal with my own bad breath for 8+ hours a day.

atyy
Gold Member
Quarantines are beginning to be relaxed. Hopefully if done carefully, the economy can be saved. If not I would like to see the responses to this OP six months from now.

Last edited:
russ_watters
homeylova223
My son in the tech industry, serving a wide range of businesses, large and small, has not yet had to lay off anyone on his extensive team, but there is a hiring freeze, and he worries about the financial health of some of his smaller customers.

On the other hand, I just received concerned communication from a friend in the academic world that layoffs are planned for teaching faculty at the university, starting with the hard working low paid untenured staff but posssibly extending to tenured faculty as well. This seems to be going on at many colleges, especially smaller ones. The report below that the university president at Ohio Univ. makes less than the basketball coach, but still accepted a pay cut down to a little over \$400,000, reminds me of my days in academia.

https://www.athensmessenger.com/spo...cle_2a31cc4e-2287-527e-a7de-6c1e70dda1eb.html

here's another article on probelms in academia:
https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/05/01/us/bc-us-virus-outbreak-higher-education.html?searchResultPosition=7

I remarked earlier that I was impacted by missing my doctor's visits. The reverse of that is that our friends in the medical profession are losing business big time. The pediatrics office my wife retired from has laid off 1/3 of its staff recently, and others of her acquaintance in private practice have seen large dropoffs in business.

I think academia will have to change I do not how exactly I think maybe more partnership with companies.

homeylova223
I feel safe for the moment, but at the same time I'd be doing my family a disservice if I wasn't watching the job market.

You could do worse than to be looking for data/decision science work right now, but it's still not great. Many companies have shed their analytics departments, and vast swaths of the market are in hiring freezes. So while there are certainly a number of jobs available out there, the competition is suddenly fierce. In February the whole world was my oyster, and there was nowhere to go but up. In May. . . well, I bet I could secure something, but it might not be a step forward in my career.

And holy cow am I super glad I'm not graduating into this mess. My heart breaks for folks graduating around this time.
This actually scares me because I might do a degree in operation research in August. Operation research is analytics, I hope I do not spend semester doing the degree and then you are unemployed because companies will cut their analytic departments.

Companies are so cruel laying off workers I know they are not a charity but they could be give a helping hand to some people.
[political content deleted by mod]

Last edited by a moderator:
Gold Member
I think maybe more partnership with companies.

That remains to be seen. I had an opportunity to be affiliated with a not highly ranked physics department in town. Their oppinion of themselves was much too high. When presented with my background and abilities, they looked at my industrial work and turned me down flat, apparently I was tainted and the professor that brought my credentials to them was told "We want nothing to do with industry, they are not capable researchers". I find it ironic, my degree is from a more highly ranked university than pretty much anyone's in that department.

This might be the kick in the butt academia needs to get onboard with what is going on in this world.

Last edited by a moderator:
Locrian
This actually scares me because I might do a degree in operation research in August. Operation research is analytics, I hope I do not spend semester doing the degree and then you are unemployed because companies will cut their analytic departments.

It's going to take more than a single semester to obtain enough OR knowledge to be hirable. Also, some OR is analytics, but a lot is operations.

homeylova223
Another issue academia will have is they will not be able to get as many international student to come to the USA. For example the Chinese students from Wuhan(?) will have trouble getting that visa because they might be infected with the corona and spread it on the campus.

I think this is good because we should put America student first not China. Not that I have anything against the Chinese.

I manage a team of 4 people +2 PhD students
Sorry, this caught my eye. I know what you meant, but it can sound like "four people, and a few robots..."

russ_watters
Staff Emeritus