Clinical research staff who switched to remote working as a result of the pandemic maintained productivity levels but felt less connected, according to new research.
The study, by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute (Gates MRI), asked 344 trial professionals from more than 26 public and private sector organizations in 50 countries how remote working impacted them.
The results revealed that 43% of professionals quizzed said they had maintained their productivity with 35% reporting they got more work done remotely.
Co-author Ken Getz, a professor at Tufts CSDD, said the finding reflect anecdotal indications the trial sector has only been mildly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is widely recognized that the drug development enterprise adapted quickly to the pandemic, with strong support from the regulatory community, by embracing novel clinical trial designs, establishing open collaborations, and deploying remote and hybrid clinical trial solutions,” he said.
The study also showed that a large proportion of professionals asked said they felt less connected with colleagues as a result of remote working. Industry needs to keep an eye on this trend according to co-author Mary Jo Lamberti.
“High levels of self-reported productivity is good news. But our study also detected high levels of burnout and perceptions of being less connected with colleagues. These conditions may grow over time, negatively impacting productivity in the longer term, unless the industry takes steps to address them.”
Despite these concerns, most of the professionals that responded to the survey predicted that the trend for remote working will continue.
A majority, some 86%, indicated support for their organization’s current remote model and nearly 90% reported that they were “extremely” or “somewhat” likely to support a mostly remote work model post-pandemic.
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