START carried out an anonymous web-based survey in May-June 2020 to better understand how Covid-19 is affecting the workplace. The results of this survey offer insight into how individuals have been impacted by the Covid outbreak, the measures they have implemented to address the situation, and the role of technology in remote workplace settings. The survey also probed respondents’ views on the relative importance of their work in the post-Covid-19 world and how they foresee post-Covid-19 funding trajectories. These results reflect input from nearly 140 respondents, the vast majority of whom were from Africa. Academia comprised the largest share of respondents.
As expected, travel restrictions and lockdowns were the main source of disruption that affected the ability to carry out in-person meetings, field research, collaboration, training sessions, student supervision, etc. And, not surprisingly, the main response to this situation was to work from home and utilize online platforms. While this was a mostly workable response, it did imply financial and morale costs, such as to students who had to purchase data plans in order to be productive at home, and to women who have endured greater work-family stress with children at home during the pandemic.
In terms of perceived Covid impacts on research themes, two-thirds of respondents believed that the global change topics on which they are working will continue to be important in the post Covid-19 period but at the same time respondents expressed concern that donors may divert funds, such as for health research, at the expense of research on global environmental change topics, such as biodiversity loss, that are relevant to pandemics. Respondents also emphasized the need to more strongly consider risk management in proposal development and project planning because of the significant disruptions that Covid-19 has produced with respect to project implementation (e.g. delays, cancellation, postponement of activities, etc.).
A full description of the survey results can be accessed here. It is worth noting that several months have passed since the survey period and situations may have changed with respect to the workplace environment.
Our sincere thanks to those of you who contributed to this survey.