LIMS and Coronavirus – will it affect our projects, much? It’s difficult to say. In this blog post, I’ll cover a few of the possible issues.
Let’s Get Some Basics Out of the Way
Some people on projects will sadly come down with the Coronavirus, as will happen in any other profession out there. Our industry will definitely feel these effects.
Also, for anyone working with a company that does research into viruses or ends up producing any health-related products associated with it, they might end up with more work. For example, anyone who worked with putting out more swine flu vaccine saw this when the swine flu had it’s last upswing.
In this section, I just meant to get some of the obvious bits out of the way, first.
LIMS and Coronavirus – Travel Issues
Travel seems like the obvious place where we might see some challenges. After all, we hear about areas and companies putting out travel bans. Our own customers might have travel bans in-place, as I write this. However, let’s start with the fact that our industry has moved toward more and more remote work (customers rarely have me go to their sites, not even to pick up corporate laptops, any more). Obviously travel bans or people who hesitate to travel won’t affect these projects.
But there are still plenty of companies that require people to travel. Some of the consulting companies regularly look for people who will travel “minimum 50%” or even “100%.” Thus, I’ll venture to say there are still plenty of LIMS, ELN, LES and LIS trips going on.
However, there are many tools that allow us to work from almost anywhere. Considering this, there’s little excuse in modern times for projects to fall behind. Here, the stumbling blocks are the people not the technology. We’re all professionals and, as such, should be able to make it work. After all, few industries have the experience with remote work that ours does. We’ve been at it decades before most other industries have been. We’ve got plenty of people with experience in it. If you don’t think you know anyone like that, then you’re calling the wrong people and should be calling my company where you’ll find not just products expertise, but expertise in delivery, as well.
Regarding the sales people, I do understand some of you do badly want to go on-site to give your sales demos. However, I’ve seen plenty of good demos done remotely and with great quality and results. There’s no reason to put these off, either.
Customer Employees Versus Consultants
Recently, I have spoken with a variety of people. I do hear some customer managers saying that they do absolutely eventually want to bring people in for face-to-face interviews. This tends to be true for some of the actual employees they plan to hire where they want someone long-term who will fit well into their organization. They’re not entirely waiting to do that but are still doing phone interviews, in the meantime. However, they have reasons why they’re going to wait and bring people in, once things calm down a bit. This appears especially true for some of the mid-level to higher-level positions.
For anyone else, though, even consulting companies aren’t necessarily bringing potential employees in for face-to-face interviews. Let’s face it – let’s suppose that you hire a consultant as a W-2 employee to send to a customer. Then, let’s suppose that they don’t work out. Then, you either put them with a different customer than they started with or you fire them. Consultants aren’t meant to be permanent and it’s just the nature of it.
On that note, a number of both consulting and end-user companies have called me trying to hire actual W-2 employees and not planning to do any face-to-face interviews. That’s from even before the Coronavirus affected travel. So, I don’t know that we’ll be much affected, beyond the dangers of the illness, itself.
It’s More Than Just Making Projects Remote
You have the option to just start looking for people who will work remotely. This is true whether you’re looking for permanent employees or consultants. In fact, there are actual remote permanent W-2 jobs out there. I don’t only mean for consulting positions but for permanent jobs with the actual customer companies, as well.
However, if we look at some of the LIMS jobs already out there, we can see the spots for those remote jobs in the big pharma on the East Coast that just aren’t getting filled. There’s another one that keeps coming up, I think somewhere like North Carolina – this is also a remote job that isn’t getting filled.
My point is this – they’re remote jobs, they’re for popular LIMS brands, such as LabWare or LVS, and they’re just not getting filled. So, obviously, merely making something remote isn’t going to guarantee anything. It does widen your pool of people but, if no-one is available with your criteria, then they just aren’t. And, as always, you have to look further into that to determine why because there could be any number of reasons behind it.
In my case, I can tell that many of you, instead of changing your job requirements, put yet new recruiters on them. I can tell because, as usual, they call EXACTLY the same pool of people the last recruiters called, which includes me. So, putting yet more recruiters on it isn’t the solution. As with our projects, throwing more bodies at a problem doesn’t solve it unless the situation warrants it. This is true much more seldom than this solution is attempted.