Community Forum - R&D in the 'New Normal' (part 1)

IRI and Babson College have teamed up to conduct a longitudinal study on the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on R&D and innovation management.  In order to understand these impacts over time, we will be conducting a series of surveys over the next two years, tracking such key issues as productivity, morale, culture, collaboration, and communication. 




If you manage a team(s), how has your approach changed over the last year?

  • Higher level of planning, but virtual meetings are flexible.
  • Most in-person meetings have changed to virtual ones via video.
  • Personal calls and encouragement further down the org structure.  Would have done with live visits and they're now online.
  • More intentional conversations with individuals since casual interactions are less common.
  • More Microsoft Teams meetings
  • Open communication, regular virtual review meetings
  • Additional phone calls at scheduled times, as well as more ad hoc phone calls/meetings.
  • Driving online social events, more frequent one-on-one meetings, making sure visibility to projects.
  • More frequent meetings, higher communication levels.
  • I'm having to be more deliberate about checking in with my team.  Previously it was easy to just drop in, catch someone as they passed by, etc.
  • More frequent team/staff meetings (entirely virtual)
  • More intentional communications and more ad hoc discussions via messaging apps.
  • Increased Documentation and Communication
  • More flexible options for doing work.
  • Shift from frequent meetings in person to frequent video and phone calls.
  • More often touch points.
  • More planned interactions, both on an individual and group basis.
  • More frequent calls, but virtual meetings only.
  • My team has always been virtual.
  • Need to be more intentional with communication - casual interactions do not occur and rigorous process needed to ensure everyone stays connected.
  • We have increased the frequency of recurrent laboratory team meetings to be in closer contact and make sure there is a forum where all work-related/lab-related issues during the pandemic (workplans/schedules/lab equipment/maintenance/...) can be addressed. HR and the Businesses are part of those meetings.
  • More video calls
  • More phone and video calls required to maintain 1:1 contacts
  • More intentional in making personal connections daily.




I attribute this to:  


  • Missing spontaneous discussions and face to face meetings bring more context.
  • Level of experience/expertise and resilience, quick adaptation to new team interaction methods, approaches.
  • Some projects have had to postpone field trials.
  • Inability to travel, government stay at home mandates in some countries, and inability to socialize in person intercontinentally.  
  • Stronger focus
  • Team is on-site
  • Strong drive of the teams and good communication tools.
  • Flexibility in schedules, understanding that everyone is in the same situation, and understanding that tools available maintain productivity.
  • Experience knowing how to get actions done.  Support for each others unique situations.
  • Other responsibilities at home.
  • Overall complexity required to get work done -- suppliers are sometimes slower to send samples due to staff issues, customers are slower to test, either due to staff issues or production lines being full (high demand).
  • Lack of being in person
  • Frequent communication
  • Separation
  • Staying connected and using the tools available to continue to collaborate.
  • More focus towards work (less things to do outside of work).
  • More meetings both regional and global ones.
  • High base motivation of the team and mutual trust.
  • Reduced time in the lab
  • In some cases, more efficient, but in other cases, not as much. Primarily since unable to go to where the work is done, see customers.
  • Less interruption
  • Keeping our labs and pilot facilities operational throughout the pandemic, quickly adapting others to effective remote working arrangements, including use of new tools.
  • Lack of in-person collaboration.
  • Delays at customers due to COVID; difficulty managing work-from-home plus kids schooling-from-home; limit on number of development chemists we can have in the lab at a given time.
  • My team has always been virtual.
  • Dedicated time to write reports and do data analysis, people working longer days when at home.
  • Digital preparedness of our organization (Teams, Databases, ERP and CRM all accessible via VPN previously). Working culture of trust in associates. 
  • Less interaction for open end, creative endeavors.
  • More concentrating on the project and less distractions.





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