Tagged / impact

Call for researchers with disabilities to engage with Parliament

Parliament aims to diversify the voices heard from the research community. Researchers with disabilities are under-represented in engagement with Parliament and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is aiming to change this. (Note – they cover all disciplines not just science and technology.)  In February 2021 POST are running online discussion groups to learn about the experiences and ideas of researchers with experience of disability. They aim to explore and understand barriers for researchers with disabilities in engaging with Parliament, and work towards overcoming these. POST are calling for researchers and knowledge exchange professionals with disabilities to join with the UK Parliament’s Knowledge Exchange Unit and to share their experience. The groups will take place on 18th, 23rd and 24th February 2021.  Find out more and apply to join a session.

This activity is part of ongoing work to support more diverse and inclusive engagement between UK Parliament and researchers, from Parliament’s Knowledge Exchange Unit.

Inquiry into Digital Trade and Data

The International Trade Committee has announced a new inquiry into Digital Trade and Data. It also pertains to the exchange and movement of data across organisations.

The Committee’s inquiry will explore a range of issues, including digital trade and data provisions in Free Trade Agreements, concerns around the security and privacy of data, the environmental impact of digital trade, and the relevant legal frameworks.

The call for evidence is here: https://bit.ly/3oVcp8o

The deadline is Friday 12 February 2021.

Please contact policy@bournemouth.ac.uk in advance if you intend to submit evidence.

The Committee particularly welcomes submissions on:

  • What are the main barriers faced by UK businesses engaging in digital trade?
  • What opportunities does digital trade present for UK businesses?
  • How does the regulation of digital trade impact consumers?
  • What approach(es) should the UK take to negotiating digital and data provisions – including those concerning the free flow of data, protection for personal data, net neutrality, data localisation, and intellectual property– in its future trade agreements?
  • What does the UK-Japan Agreement indicate about the UK’s approach to digital trade and data provisions in future trade negotiations?
  • What approach should the UK take towards renewing the WTO’s moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions?
  • What objectives should the UK have when negotiating digital and data provisions during its accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)?
  • Will the global increase in digital trade affect the environment in a positive or negative way? What steps can be taken to mitigate any negative environmental impacts of increased digital trade?
  • What domestic and international law is relevant to the Government’s approach to digital trade?

Biological science expert wanted to advice UKRI

An opportunity for an expert in biological sciences or biopharma to provide advice and guidance on UKRI’s long-term investment priorities for research and innovation infrastructure.

The role as an Infrastructure Advisory Committee (IAC) member would involve supporting the cross-UKRI Infrastructure Fund. The primary role will be to give advice and make recommendations on the fund’s investment priorities to UKRI’s decision-making boards.

There are up to two positions available, both with a 3-year term, and a time commitment of 6 to 9 days per year each.

For further information on the role, you can find the recruitment call-out here: https://bit.ly/3ngMzLH

The closing date for applications in 10 January 2021. Start date is mid-February 2021.

IMIV MRI Pump-Priming Research Scheme

To celebrate the launch of the Bournemouth University Institute of Medical Imaging and Visualisation, and the opening of the MRI Centre in the Bournemouth Gateway Building, we are pleased to launch an MRI pump-priming scheme to support innovative MRI research projects.

The aim of this scheme is to support projects that will lead to competitive external funding applications for MR imaging studies.  Applications will therefore be required to demonstrate a clear plan for progressing preliminary studies to grant applications and larger studies.

  • All projects must have a Bournemouth University researcher as lead or co-lead applicant (see application form).
  • Up to 4 awards of up to 20 hours’ scanning time will be available. The award will not cover any additional expenses related to scanning, or other aspects of the project.
  • Projects must be deliverable within 12 months, including ethical approvals. Projects with ethical approvals already in place will be prioritised.
  • There will be online information and project development sessions with members of the IMIV team at 3.30pm on Thursday 22nd October and Thursday 5th November. Please email imiv@bournemouth.ac.uk to register your interest and receive the login details. You can view the virtual presentation here.

To register your interest, and receive the application form, please email imiv@bournemouth.ac.uk. The deadline for applications is 13th December 2020.

Academic Targeted Research Scheme (Sustainability, Impact and Consumption): Predator ecology and conservation

As part of the Academic Targeted Research Scheme, I started my new role as Senior Lecturer in Sustainability, Impact and Consumption on the 1st of July this year.

 

My research will focus on predator ecology and conservation and the project funded by the scheme is specifically centred on the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus). The UK has several species of shark that call our waters home for at least part of the year and many are in dire need of conservation management. Highly mobile, migratory top predators like the porbeagle are important to understand and manage as they play vital roles in nutrient cycling, ecosystem linkage and maintaining food web stability as well as just being incredible species in their own right. Such species are also pretty difficult to study, especially in the marine environment!

Porbeagles are included on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as critically endangered in Europe and the Northeast Atlantic, largely due to overfishing in commercial fisheries. They are closely related to great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and share their more mammalian-like features of being warm-bodied and giving birth to live young, though they ‘only’ grow up to roughly 3.5 meters as opposed to the 6-meter white shark. Dorset is emerging as a hotspot for these elusive animals, which migrate to our shores in the summer months. They are proving to be a popular target in the catch and release recreational fishery, which provides a valuable opportunity to learn more about them.

Under Home Office licence, I’ll be joining recreational fishing trips and collecting small muscle biopsies from porbeagles and other sharks for stable isotope and fatty acid analyses. These analyses will provide insights into the relatively long and short-term diet and habitat use of the sharks, telling us more about their trophic ecology and movement patterns and providing information on how to best manage and protect them.

In addition to joining the angling trips, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of York, I’ll be conducting a survey of recreational shark anglers to gain insight into their perceptions of and attitudes towards UK shark populations and their conservation. In partnership with other external experts, I will also be running best-practice shark handling workshops with the aim of building capacity in the angling community and improving the sustainability of the fishery by maximising the health of released fish.

I am aiming to develop a suite of complementary projects alongside my work on the UK shark recreational fishery and am delighted to have already won some funding for a project on kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) trophic ecology, using stable isotope analysis of feathers to update our understanding of their contemporary diet. Furthermore, I am developing projects on small mustelids and big cats and am very excited to work on such a diverse group of species, conducting high quality research that will result in tangible conservation benefits for biodiversity and society. I am very open to interdisciplinary collaboration and would welcome anyone with ideas to get in touch!

Deadline approaching: Call for Deputy Chair of the Research Impact Funding Panel

The Research Impact Funding Panel is responsible on behalf of the Research Performance and Management Committee for providing internal funding and support to aid the development of research impact at BU.  This will ensure a pipeline of case studies for REF 2021 and beyond. It is responsible for assessing and determining priority areas for impact support and investment.

We are seeking expressions of interest (EoIs) for the Deputy Chair of the Research Impact Funding Panel. Deputy Chairs should be members of the Professoriate (Associate Professors).

EoIs for the Deputy Chair role will be reviewed against selection criterion which includes knowledge and experience of research impact, experience of chairing meetings and plans for leading the impact agenda across the university.

EoIs should consist of a CV and short case (maximum length of one page) outlining suitability for the role. These should be submitted to the Research Impact panel mailbox by the deadline of 5pm on 1 September 2020.

Full details are available on the Staff Intranet: https://staffintranet.bournemouth.ac.uk/news/news/thismonth/researchimpactfundingpanelcallfordeputychair.php

Research Impact Funding Panel – call for Deputy Chair

The Research Impact Funding Panel is responsible on behalf of the Research Performance and Management Committee for providing internal funding and support to aid the development of research impact at BU.  This will ensure a pipeline of case studies for REF 2021 and beyond. It is responsible for assessing and determining priority areas for impact support and investment.

We are seeking expressions of interest (EoIs) for the Deputy Chair of the Research Impact Funding Panel. Deputy Chairs should be members of the Professoriate (Associate Professors).

EoIs for the Deputy Chair role will be reviewed against selection criterion which includes knowledge and experience of research impact, experience of chairing meetings and plans for leading the impact agenda across the university.

EoIs should consist of a CV and short case (maximum length of one page) outlining suitability for the role. These should be submitted to the Research Impact panel mailbox by the deadline of 5pm on 1 September 2020.

Full details are available on the Staff Intranet: https://staffintranet.bournemouth.ac.uk/news/news/thismonth/researchimpactfundingpanelcallfordeputychair.php

Research Impact Funding Panel – call for Deputy Chair

The Research Impact Funding Panel is responsible on behalf of the Research Performance and Management Committee for providing internal funding and support to aid the development of research impact at BU.  This will ensure a pipeline of case studies for REF 2021 and beyond. It is responsible for assessing and determining priority areas for impact support and investment.

We are seeking expressions of interest (EoIs) for the Deputy Chair of the Research Impact Funding Panel. Deputy Chairs should be members of the Professoriate (Associate Professors).

EoIs for the Deputy Chair role will be reviewed against selection criterion which includes knowledge and experience of research impact, experience of chairing meetings and plans for leading the impact agenda across the university.

EoIs should consist of a CV and short case (maximum length of one page) outlining suitability for the role. These should be submitted to the Research Impact panel mailbox by the deadline of 5pm on 1 September 2020.

Full details are available on the Staff Intranet: https://staffintranet.bournemouth.ac.uk/news/news/thismonth/researchimpactfundingpanelcallfordeputychair.php

POST Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme: latest news

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) has formally launched its Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme, with further details of the application process for expressions of interest and a list of parliamentary offices participating in the scheme.

If you are interested in applying, please follow the guidelines below:

  1. Firstly, inform your Faculty Dean or Deputy Dean of your interest and discuss potential sources of funding.
  2. Identify an idea for a potential project to conduct in a participating Host Office in UK Parliament. A list can be found on p. 10 of the Guidance note for applicants.
  3. Before completing the Expression of Interest Application Form, read the Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme Open Call 2020 – Guidance Note for Applicants. POST strongly recommends applicants also read the Appendix to this document. It contains information about the offices in Parliament participating in the scheme, the kinds of projects you could propose to do with them and any topics they are particularly interested in receiving proposals on.
  4. Complete an Expression of Interest Application Form and send a copy of the completed form, along with a two-page CV, to postfellowships@parliament.uk. You should mark the subject of the email as: “PAFS Open Call: [name of proposed parliamentary Host Office]”. POST also requests that you complete and send them the diversity monitoring questionnaire, although this is voluntary.

If successful, you will be asked to submit a detailed application in September, which will also confirm BU budget approval. Interviews are likely to be conducted in October/November and the Fellowship will commence January 2021, following security clearance.

Please note, the BU Policy team and your faculty impact officer are available for guidance, support and to track your application.

POST Academic Fellowship Scheme: expressions of interest invited

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is inviting expressions of interest for its Parliamentary Academic Fellowship Scheme from Monday 8 June.

Securing a prestigious fellowship with POST provides researchers with unique access to Parliament, policy experience and direct potential for impact. It is open to all employed academics with a PhD, and applicants propose their own project for Parliament to conduct. These projects might include contributing to the work of a parliamentary office, filling gaps in expertise, helping to grow Parliament’s academic networks, informing parliamentary scrutiny, analysing and evaluating parliamentary practices, building staff capacity and skills, providing advice and support to a committee, scrutinising a specific area of government policy, providing briefing material or advice, generating data to facilitate effective scrutiny, writing specific papers for parliamentary teams, studying aspects of the parliamentary process or perceptions of that process, or something else!

There is no external funding associated with these fellowships, and the cost will need to be met either by BU internally or by other research funders. The types of cost the fellowship will entail are: cover arrangements, travel, subsistence and accommodation alongside consideration of your time. Do not let concern over costs or other factors hold you back at this stage. Parliament have a keen diversity agenda and applications from all career stages (from PhD onwards) and other equality characteristics are welcomed – you do not have to be a professor!

The fellowship will usually last for 1 year; there may be flexibility over the start date (and this may help to save or manage costs). Fellows will spend some of their time in Westminster and some aspects will be completed remotely. The amount of time spent in Westminster will be dictated by the nature of your project. It could be one day per week, or a week block every six weeks, or another pattern.

Expression of Interest applications will be invited from Monday 8 June, when more information about the scheme, what to cover in your expression of interest, and a list of the parliamentary offices participating will be released by POST. The closing date is Friday 26 June 2020. We will update this blog with the new details once they are released.

Process

  • Now: Inform your Faculty Dean or Deputy Dean , that you are interested in applying
  • June: Complete the expression of interest and forward before the 26 June deadline, and discuss potential sources of funding with your faculty leadership
  • September: Submit detailed application for the fellowship which will also confirm BU budget approval
  • Oct/Nov: Interview
  • If selected – complete security clearance, complete Fellowship Agreement
  • Jan 2021 – commence Fellowship

The BU Policy team and your faculty impact officer are available for guidance, support and to track your application.

Click here for full details from POST, as well as testimonials from previous fellows.

This is also an informative and useful document – it contains some examples of projects successful Fellows undertook and the evaluation of the whole scheme including what needs improvement.

 

 

How the C-19 lockdown has affected the work-life balance of BU academics (Part 5): lessons learned

As the week ends, we would like to close this series of blogs by sharing with you some of the lessons we believe can be learned from the experiences of 70 BU colleagues who completed our survey. Many thanks to all who have already contributed to this research. The results we have presented so far are only part of the data. The survey will remain open until the end of May, when we will then analyse all responses to improve our understanding of the impact of the C-19 lockdown on academics across the UK and beyond. If you have not yet contributed to this survey, you are kindly invited to do so here: tiny.cc/acad19, and please do share with your networks. This is a cross-faculty (FHSS and FST) collaboration conducted by an interdisciplinary team with expertise in social sciences (Prof Sara Ashencaen Crabtree), public health (Prof Ann Hemingway) and physical geography (Dr Luciana Esteves).

Lesson learned 1. The complementarity of the quantitative and qualitative data.
The quantitative data helped identifying the factors that are affecting the largest number of respondents and where there are contrasting views or experiences between groups of respondents. The qualitative data provided insights into how the factors have affected the respondents and why, particularly on specific personal circumstances and other aspects that were not included in the closed-ended questions. This research would be deficient without one or the other.

Lesson learned 2. Working from home is bringing compounded benefits to the majority and is something that is wished to remain as an option in the longer term.
You can find some insights about the benefits identified by respondents at the end of blog Part 2. Academics are not alone in wishing for flexibility to work remotely to continue after lockdown and some employers have already surveyed their employees preferences as they start planning for reshaping their office spaces.

Lesson learned 3. Some negative aspects of working from home will subside when lockdown restrictions are reduced but others will persist.
These are some examples:

  • Less pressure from balancing family and work needs when schools re-open; home-care support can resume; when social distancing measures allow some more interaction with family and friends (even if just a small number)
  • Inadequate workspace at home may persist due to space and/or financial difficulties in making adjustments to transform home shared spaces into quiet workspaces.

Lesson learned 4. Online teaching is seeing as positive by some and negative by others (see blog Part 2).
Part of the negative effect was due to the increased workload resulting from the fast pace in which adjustments needed to be made, sometimes under duress of lack of experience/training (including how to use software/tools) and/or inadequate equipment. Considerations of how to provide training and sharing of good practices are likely to be beneficial to some staff.

Lesson learned 5. The increased inequities that are arising from the rapid changes in the academic environment.
Conditions are wide ranging when the workspace is each one’s home. Some are perfectly suited or can be well adjusted, others were never meant to be. Identifying and supporting the staff who need to work from an office outside their home becomes crucial and urgent. Other long-standing inequities have been aggravated during lockdown (see blog Part 4), including but not limited to gender bias, with strong consequences to research.

Lesson learned 6. A fresh management approach is needed to address these emerging inequities.
Providing the specific support that is needed by staff who have been the most negatively affected should be prioritised to reduce inequities. The resulting short and long-term impacts of lockdown on staff productivity, health and wellbeing need to be taken into consideration in appraisals and career progression decisions.

Lesson learned 7. Most are greatly concerned about workloads and work-life balance when lockdown ends (see blog Part 1).
In addition to addressing emerging inequities, there is considerable concern and opposition to a possible ‘return to normal work’, which has been expressed by respondents (and the academic community at large) as working arrangements and demands affecting productivity and the health and wellbeing of staff.

Lesson learned 8. There is a need to improve communication and guidance from managers to staff dealing with students’ requests and concerns, such as programme leaders.
Managing students’ expectations is a major concern for a large proportion of respondents, more so for specific cohorts or programmes.

Lesson learned 9. Many staff are missing the interaction and support from colleagues.
Identifying ways to promote spontaneous interactions 1-2-1 or in small groups is likely to benefit staff.

Lesson learned 10. Staff wish that their experiences inform decisions and help shaping the ‘new normal’ working environment.
A working group with university management, UCU and senior leadership staff could be formed to co-create and shape the ‘new normal’ and the strategies that can be implemented to reduce emerging and long-standing inequalities.

How the C-19 lockdown has affected the work-life balance of BU academics (Part 3)

In our previous blogs, we showed that work-life balance during lockdown got worse for 59% and improved for 37% of the 70 BU academics who responded to our survey (blog Part 1). We also showed how some aspects of life in lockdown have affected groups of people differently. For example, a considerably higher proportion of respondents under 40 years of age reported negative effect from switching to online teaching (75%), change in the number of emails (58%) and changes in the number of meetings (50%) in relation to other age groups (blog Part 2). This blog Part 3 focuses on how the main concerns of academics shifted through time and the support they have found most helpful.

If you have not yet contributed to this survey, you are kindly invited to do so here: https://bournemouth.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/impact-of-lockdown-on-academics, and please do share with your networks. If you want us to be able to identify that you are BU staff, you will need to provide this information in one of the open questions.

We asked respondents to identify the three main concerns they had at the start of the outbreak, at the start of the lockdown and at present from a list of 15 options. While respondents’ main concerns have changed through time, the health of a family member or close friend have always remained within the top three (Figure 1). Own health and coping with changes at work were within the top three main concerns at the start of both the outbreak and lockdown but subsided in priority afterwards. As lockdown progressed, main concerns shifted to broader issues such as the duration and/or gravity of the pandemic and longer-term impacts in the country or the world in general. It is important to note that, from the start of the outbreak to the time they responded to the survey (end of April/early May), work-life balance and the consequences to own work in the longer-term became a major concern to a considerably larger proportion of respondents.

Figure 1. Respondents’ main concerns at the start of the outbreak, at the start of the lockdown and at present.

In open comments, respondents identified other aspects that are of major concern, which can be grouped as worries about own or others health, managing circumstances at home or at work (Table 1).

Table 1. Other major concerns expressed by respondents

Figure 2 highlights the types of support that were considered to be helpful and the ones that need to be improved to help a larger number of staff (e.g. provision of IT equipment, which BU is currently addressing and support from line managers). Unsurprisingly, having good internet connection at home was considered very helpful by 65% of respondents and the support from family and colleagues was considered extremely valuable at these critical times .

Figure 2. Respondents indication of how helpful were these particular types of support available to them.

Responses to open questions provided insights on the relevance of support received and identified other means of support not listed in Figure 2. These other means of support are summarised in Table 2.

The support offered by learning technologists and other colleagues to enable the quick turnaround to online teaching was considered invaluable. In terms of support provided by the university, the extra days of leave were mentioned most often. Respondents indicate that they appreciate the ‘gesture of goodwill’ but are concerned that they might not be able to take these days in the near future due to work pressures. It was also mentioned that these extra days do not cover for the costs of working from home, e.g. internet charges.

Table 2. Examples of other types of support and coping strategies respondents found useful during lockdown.

Respondents identified four aspects in which support from the university could be more effective:

  • Availability of equipment and workspace adequate for job – this included computer/laptop, desk/chair, internet and quiet space at home.
  • Better communication and/or more timely guidance from the university to help staff dealing with student queries – issues of concern included the cascading of communication, with staff sometimes learning information from students and poor/insufficient information and support to staff, particularly affecting programme leaders, the first port of call to student cohorts.
  • Need for management to plan ahead more efficiently
  • Support and guidance to staff undertaking PhDs

 

Who are the respondents?

Exposure to Covid-19

  • 7% of respondents (5 out of 68) had severe symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive or live with someone who did. All are female respondents in their 20s, 30s and 50s. Two of these households had someone at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • 22% of respondents (15 out of 68) had close family members, friends or colleagues who had severe symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive. All are female respondents in their 30s, 40s and 50s (the majority, 9 respondents).
  • 41% of respondents (28 out of 68) live in a household where there is at least one person at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

BU academics contribute to initial findings from Covid-19 expert database

In March, POST launched the Covid-19 outbreak expert database, inviting anyone who wanted to support Parliament in its work, and had expertise in COVID-19 and/or its impacts to sign up. In April, more than 1,100 experts on this database responded to a survey put out by POST, asking them to share their immediate, short, medium and long term concerns relating to COVID-19 and its impacts. Having analysed the responses, and determined there to be 15 broad areas of concern, POST is now publishing syntheses in these 15 areas.

 

The 15 areas of concern are listed here, along with the methodology for both conducting the survey and synthesising the insights. The 15 syntheses are being published on POST’s Horizon Scanning pages.

Those respondents who said they would be happy to be publicly acknowledged are listed in full here and the list includes the following BU academics:

  • Professor Katherine Appleton – Psychology
  • Dr Emily Arden-Close – Psychology
  • Professor Christopher Hartwell – Financial Systems Resilience
  • Professor Ann Hemingway – Public Health and Wellbeing
  • Dr Sarah Hodge – Psychology
  • Dr John Oliver – Media Management
  • Dr Karen Thompson – Leadership Strategy and Organisations
  • Dr John McAlaney – Psychology
  • Professor Lee Miles – Crisis and Disaster Management
  • Dr Andy Pulman – Digital Health and User Experience
  • Professor Barry Richards – Political Psychology

You can still sign up to the expert database here.

 

How the C-19 lockdown has affected the work-life balance of BU academics (Part 2)

Our blog Part 1 (posted on Friday May 15th) provided a very crude overview of the preliminary results from the survey we have launched to collate data on the impact of C-19 lockdown on the work-life balance of academics. This Part 2 focuses on differences between groups of respondents and identifying whether particular groups have been more negatively affected. We are yet to do any statistical tests on these data, so please consider differences between groups with care.

We have received 170 responses to date, 70 we could identify as being from BU staff (63 from female colleagues). If you have not yet contributed to this survey, you can still to do so here: https://bournemouth.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/impact-of-lockdown-on-academics, and please do share with your networks, as the survey is open to all academics. If you want us to be able to identify that you are BU staff, you will need to mention BU in one of the open questions. This research is a cross-faculty collaboration conducted by Sara Ashencaen Crabtree (FHSS), Ann Hemingway (FHSS) and myself (FST).

Work-life balance during lockdown got worse for the majority of respondents (59%) and improved for 37%. The most common reason for worsening or improving work-life balance were ‘workload increased’ (31%) and ‘I could do what was needed and be at home/with family’ (24%), respectively (Figure 1a). Although there are differences across gender (Figure 1b), any differences between male and female respondents should not be considered representative of the wider community due to the small number of male respondents.

Figure 1. Changes in work-life balance of respondents during Covid-19 lockdown and the selected reasons for identifying positive or negative change (a) and reported changes per gender of respondents (b). Blue shades indicate work-life balance improved and red shades indicate it worsened.

A higher proportion of academics under the age of 40 (82%) indicated that their work-life balance has worsened during lockdown when compared with other age groups (Figure 2a). Most of these academics reported that work-life balance worsened because they couldn’t work much. For academics in their 50s or older, the key reason for worsening of work-life balance was the increase in workload.

Figure 2. Changes in work-life balance of respondents during Covid-19 lockdown per age group (a); presence of children in the household (b) – the group ‘with children’ includes children ages 0-12 and teenagers; and household size (c).

Balancing work and childcare and/or homeschooling  was mentioned as a negative effect on work-life balance during lockdown by 18% and 7% respectively. However, this does not seem to be the main cause affecting respondents under the age of 40, when responses between groups with and without children are compared. In fact, 87% of respondents in their 40s live in a household with children 12 years old or younger and yet the proportion of this age group reporting worsened work-life balance was lower (55%) than the proportion of respondents with no children (60%). However, respondents who live in a household with younger children seem to be more negatively affected.

All respondents (N=8) who live with children under the age of 5 years have reported that their work-life balance have worsened (Figure 2b), the majority indicated an increase in workload as the main reason. However, no major differences were found when comparing groups of respondents who live with children (all ages under 19 included) and households without children. Interestingly, a lower proportion of respondents who live with children aged 5-12 years report worse work-life balance (50%) than respondents who do not have children in their household (60%) (Figure 2b). Further, work-life balance has improved for a higher proportion of respondents who live in a household of three people (45%) than in other household sizes (<40%) (Figure 2c).

In all faculties, a higher number of respondents reported work-life balance getting worse than improving, except FST (Figure 3a), where work-life balance has improved for 50% of respondents and worsened for 36%. Professors were the only group with more respondents indicating work-life balance improved (50%) than worsened (25%); in contrast, all associate professors reported worsened work-life balance (Figure 3b), but the small sample in both groups may not be representative.

Figure 3. Changes in work-life balance of respondents during Covid-19 lockdown per faculty (a) and position (b).

Switching to online teaching and not being able to meet with colleagues in person, socialise and engage with preferred leisure activity were the factors affecting negatively more than 50% of respondents (Figure 4).When lockdown restrictions are lifted, two of these factors (socialise and engage with preferred leisure activity) will have less effect on academics work-life balance, but more could be done to support colleagues negatively affected by the switch to online teaching and missing the contact with colleagues while working remotely.

More respondents have indicated a positive than negative impact from changes in the number of meetings and switching to online meetings emails (Figure 4). Fewer and more effective meetings were reported as the positive impacts. However, for some respondents, there are too many online meetings and they are getting tired of (avoidable) prolonged screen time (an effect that has been called Zoom fatigue). Therefore, guidance on how best to use, organise and participate in online meetings and how to manage and reduce screen time/tiredness may be useful.

Figure 4. The impact of selected factors on the work-life balance of respondents during lockdown.

A considerably higher proportion of respondents under 40 years of age report negative effect from switching to online teaching (75%), change in the number of emails (58%) and changes in the number of meetings (50%) in relation to other age groups (Figure 5). This age group also shows lower proportion of staff indicating positive effect from these three factors.

Figure 5. Reported impact per age group from (a) switching to online teaching; (b) changes in number of emails; and (c) changes in number of meetings.

FMC is the only faculty with more than 50% of respondents reporting negative effect from switching to online teaching (58%), change in the number of emails (58%) and changes in the number of meetings (67%). FST and FM are the faculties with 50% of respondents reporting positive impact from changes in the number of meetings.  FHSS has the largest proportion of respondents indicating negative effect from switching to online teaching (62%) and strong negative effect due to changes in the number of emails (54%). Increased number of emails from students has been reported, particularly by FHSS staff who support students who were asked to work for the NHS.

Figure 6. Reported impact per faculty from (a) switching to online teaching; (b) changes in number of emails; and (c) changes in number of meetings.

Figure 7 shows word clouds based on responses to the open questions asking for the two most important factors leading to negative and positive impacts on their work-life balance during lockdown. Increased demand for student support was the most cited negative factor (by 27% of respondents), followed by missing contact with colleagues and inadequate equipment (e.g. IT, desk, chair) and balancing childcare (19%). Less commuting or travel for work was the most cited factor affecting work-life balance positively (46% of respondents), followed by time with family (25%) and enjoying working from home (15%).

Figure 7. Word cloud showing how respondents expressed the negative (a) and positive (b) factors affecting their work-life balance during C-19 lockdown.

In responses to open questions, it is apparent that many negative aspects of the lockdown relate to aspects that are likely to subside when restrictions are lifted (e.g. reopening of schools, meeting with family and friends, enjoying leisure activities). Other negative aspects relate to the fast pace in which academic staff had to switch to online activities, sometimes without adequate workspace, equipment and/or training, leading to overwork. On the other hand, respondents report many substantial advantages of working from home, many wishing that this can continue (at least for part of the time) in the longer term. This is a summary of the advantages respondents have identified:

  • No travelling = more control over time + less exhaustion + less expense + better for the environment + spending more time with family
  • Healthier – nutritionally better, more physical rest, more exercise
  • Staying safe – better protected at home, avoiding traffic hazards
  • Gaining extra hours to work
  • Slower pace = more time to concentrate; a breathing space
  • Greater autonomy to manage time and priorities
  • Greater flexibility = ingenuity and novelty, new ways of teaching and supporting students remotely
  • Less stress and physical/mental wear-&-tear
  • Stripping back work dross – basic priorities reveals a lot of bureaucracy that can be avoided

 Who are the respondents?


Exposure to Covid-19

  • 7% of respondents (5 out of 68) had severe symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive or live with someone who did. All are female respondents in their 20s, 30s and 50s. Two of these households had someone at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • 22% of respondents (15 out of 68) had close family members, friends or colleagues who had severe symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive. All are female respondents in their 30s, 40s and 50s (the majority, 9 respondents).
  • 41% of respondents (28 out of 68) live in a household where there is at least one person at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.