Two years ago, many of us had never worked from home. Our research required the use of a laboratory, or interaction with colleagues, patients or communities. Our teaching and mentoring required face-to-face interaction with students or trainees. The COVID-19 pandemic turned all this upside down. In March 2020, tens of millions of American workers were instructed to work from home to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. University campuses and healthcare systems closed academic offices and laboratories and directed scientists and staff to continue their work remotely if possible. We did not think this would last for long. However, here we are over two years later, and remote/hybrid (some office, some home) work continues for many.
In the first weeks of the pandemic, we became curious about the impact remote work due to COVID-19 would have on CCTSI researchers and staff. In April 2020, we conducted a mixed-methods survey study, in which many of you participated. You told us about how much COVID-19 and remote work interfered with your research. You told us you missed your colleagues and the office routine. You shared your appreciation for and challenges with the communication coming from department and organizational leadership. You told us how hard it was to balance work and family, and how psychologically taxing it was to be living and working during a worldwide pandemic.
It has been a long, strange journey. Looking back, we have reflected on how many of the challenges you shared over two years ago, such as parenting and working from home, limited private workspace and social and professional isolation continue. However, many have gotten into a groove as schools, camps and daycares have re-opened and we are able to safely interact with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Our home offices may still be small, but we have the IT equipment, software and tech support to be productive. We have become adept at videoconferencing technology and have established rituals to balance work and life. As COVID-19 safety measures were implemented and case rates declined, we have been given the option to return to the office, work hybrid or continue to work exclusively from home.
The importance of leadership support and social interaction were brought to the forefront during the pandemic. We appreciated the efforts of campus leaders to provide free resources for faculty and staff, self-care and well-being content and social events to bring students, staff, clinicians, administrators and researchers together. We have admired the resiliency and creativity of CCTSI members who continued their teaching and programs of research during these challenging times. If your team has yet to find their remote or hybrid work groove, we recommend engaging in the CCTSI Teaming for Early Career Researchers to learn best practices from team science or review the growing literature on how to support in-person, remote and hybrid work teams.
We are grateful for the CCTSI members who took the time to share their experience of remote work during the early weeks of COVID-19. We know it has not been easy, but we hope you have found your groove.
Associate Director of Dissemination & Implementation, Colorado Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CCTSI)
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy
Colorado School of Public Health | Anschutz Medical Campus
Director of Dissemination & Implementation, Colorado Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CCTSI)
Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Colorado, School of Medicine | Anschutz Medical Campus