COVID-19 Update: Observations from a Regulatory Recruiter

The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting both individuals and businesses in a variety of ways.  As a Regulatory Recruiter for the biopharma industry, I speak with both hiring authorities and regulatory professionals every day, and I wanted to share some insights on what I have been hearing over the past week.

  1. Some biopharma companies are moving ahead with hiring as usual while others are pumping the breaks.  Although there is a lot of uncertainty about the economy, we have a few clients who are still working to fill crucial regulatory roles quickly. In fact, we have one client who will be extending offers for two regulatory roles this week. On the flip side, we have another client who has paused all hiring indefinitely until they understand how this crisis will impact the industry and their business plans. Most companies are somewhere in between, trying fill the most essential roles while pausing hiring on the others.
  2. Video interviews have replaced onsite interviews – for now. With offices closed and travel feeling more risky, most companies have opted for video interviews instead of in-person. While this may be a reasonable solution during the outbreak, both candidates and hiring authorities agree that it’s much harder to gauge personality and cultural fit by video, or to make hiring decisions via video interviews only. Some hiring decisions may be delayed until in person meetings can take place.
  3. Onboarding and training of new hires present new challenges for some organizations. While some companies are comfortable with remote training and orientation, others struggle with how to best integrate new hires into the team and make them feel included when everyone is working from home. Some companies are toying with delaying offers and delayed start dates until they can establish a new onboarding strategy. 
  4. Most clinical trials are moving forward amid the pandemic.  Several clients mentioned that they are still conducting clinical trials for now, but a few have been disrupted  Some companies like Bristol Myers Squibb have reported that they won’t be starting any new trials for at least three to four weeks.
  5. Working from home is a mixed bag for most.  Everyone loves not having to commute into the office, but some people are struggling with the new reality of working from home every day. It can be hard to work when your spouse and children are also at home 24/7, and it can be very isolating if you live alone. I have spoken with regulatory folks who say it has been harder to be productive remotely and they miss the interaction with colleagues.  I have heard others say that they are getting tied up with too many video conferences and phone calls which take them away from their work. Some stay glued to the TV or internet to stay informed of the latest COVID headlines while working.
  6. There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.  Most people that I speak with have some general anxiety about the outbreak, discomfort with being out of their routine, and concern about the economy. They are genuinely concerned about the health and well-being of their family members and friends. Some have admitted that it has impacted their motivation and productivity.  Several people have told me it’s just hard being in the house all day without much opportunity to exercise or socialize. But for the most part everyone is trying to buck up and stay focused.

This situation remains fluid and things are changing rapidly.  What has been your experience so far? What challenges are you facing? We would love to hear from you and what your experience has been like over the past two weeks.  Please feel free to share your comments! Your input would be helpful for all of us, and will affirm that we are all in this together. Thanks!