The PDC remains open remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak
The PDC can be contacted by email as usual
This page provides postdocs with:
- Links to sources of information related to the COVID-19 outbreak (University response, funding/grants, Public Health Agency, UK Government)
- Opportunity to submit concerns in a "worry box" for them to be investigated and answers to be provided on relevant FAQ pages
- Adjustments to the PDC provision and resources available online
- Tips to work from home
Postdocs' COVID-19 worry box
We understand that the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is disturbing your work and is raising a lot of questions and worries.
Please all know that the University, Faculty and Directorates (Research and Enterprise, Research Finance, People and Culture etc.) are curently working and developing contingencies to cover many aspects of the CIVID-19 situation and the impact it has on us all. This includes liaising with funders with regards to matters related to research funding.
The aim of this worry box is to gather your concerns regarding the effect of the outbreak on your postdoc, for example difficulties to complete your project, status of salary provision, end of contract/grant, ability to work from home etc.
The PDC will regularly review your queries and direct them to the appropriate directorates so that answers can be provided on the relevant FAQ page or even on this page or other media as appropriate.
With work being under way, it is possible that answers to some of your question may not be available yet and that you will experience some delays in getting clarification; we thank you for your understanding.
Answers are provided on this page, alongside other FAQ pages (scroll down to "Post-doctoral Researchers"). Note that the questions are amalgamated, rephrased and generalised so that they do not describe a personal situation but represent general worries likely to be shared by multiple postdocs.
Worries related to new working arrangements
Depending on your research, in the next few months you are likely to either remain working at home full-time (or almost) or re-gain some level of access to laboratories and facilities essential to your work.
It will be a transition phase, not "back to normal" and you won't be able nor be expected to resume a productivity similar to before the lockdown. Arrangements will be made to protect you and may involve staggered hours, shifts (morning/afternoon; selected days on site/at home; alternate full weeks on site/at home...), PPE etc.
These arrangements are decided at Centre and School levels and will be different in different parts of the Faculty.
These working arrangements are temporary and constantly reviewed. They will be adapted based on what works and what doesn't so it is essential that you voice your concerns.
Ideally, raise your concerns with the relevant team in your School or Research Centre (if you don't know who is part of the team, contact your School/Centre manager).
If you are uncomfortable doing so, use the button below or contact the PDC. The PDC will forward the information to the relevant people anonymously.
Please especially report aspects that you feel:
- Put your health at risk
- Impact on your mental health
- Impact on your work/life balance
- Impact on your ability to carry out work (e.g. access to equipment, especially at home)
- Disadvantage you to carry out your work compared to colleagues because of your personal situation (caring duties, transport requirements etc.)
- Impact on the quality of your research (requirement for experiments to involve multiple experimenters etc.)
- Pressure you feel from your PI, senior management or colleagues
Adjusted PDC provision
I'm a postdoc get me out of here!
Resources to move your career outside of academia
When you want once access is granted (expected end of June)
(Deadline to register: 21/06/20)
Innovation Training Programme
Industry-Academia Collaborations, Business awareness, Negotiation
New session for all QUB researchers, including postdocs: 8-9 June 2020 (9:30 am to 4:30 pm)
Provided online as interactive webinars
(Deadline to register: 04/06/20)
The Successful Researcher Roadmap
Project mapping and development, of interest for fellowships
When you want once access is granted (expected end of May)
(Deadline to register: 15/05/20)
UNIque: Career development for women
Career and personal development in and out of academia
Webinars 01/05/20, 12/05/20, 21/05, 02/06/20, 10/06/20 (all 2 to 3 pm GMT)
Additional videos when you want
(Deadline to register: 08/04/20)
PDC Postdoc Induction
QUB structure, support for postdocs, tips to make the best out of your postdoc
4 May 2020 (2 to 4:30 pm)
Provided online (via Teams)
(Deadline to register: 30/04/20)
Managing yourself and your research project
Project and time management
TBD; was supposed to be delivered face-to-face but will be adapted online
(Deadline to register: TBD)
Other online resources
All personal support via one-to-one meetings is now provided online using Microsoft Teams.
This includes career support by the PDC but also support from your local PDC ambassadors or other postdocs (click "+" to expand and get more information)
Personal support provided by the PDC:
- CV / job application feedback
- Mock interviews
- Career / personal discussion
See procedure to book your appointment here
Additional personnal support:
- If you want to talk to other postdocs, a list of postdocs who previously attended a mental health first aid course have offered to be contacted and have a chat with anyone interested (see list here)
- Do not hesitate to contact your PDC ambassadors (list here), who most likely are going to arrange some forums for you to "drop by" to have a chat online with other postdocs in your School/Centre
Working from home
Working from home can be challenging, especially when it is not your choice, but it can also be very flexible and a great occasion to try out a different way of working and get done some of the work that usually gets deprioritised.
Productivity and workload
We are experiencing an unprecedented situation and it is well recognised, as indicated by our President and Vice-Chancellor in is communication from the 25 March, that you are most likely not going to be as productive as usual. It will take some time to settle into a new routine and work arrangement, you may not have access to all the equipment some of your work requires (e.g. a lab!), you may have to spend time caring for others in your household, home schooling your children etc.
This is normal so give yourself a break! Re-think your priorities based on what you can reasonably do considering your project and your personal circumstances, to make the best out of the situation. Organise a meeting with your PI to discuss this and agree on your priorities.
A few tips to organise working from home
- If possible, set aside a dedicated space for work
- Follow a routine (start / end times, breaks etc. and don't overlook week-ends and holidays)
- Share / discuss your new routine with other members of your household to minimise disruption
- Identify your priorities and schedule them
- Keep in touch with your team (PI, students you supervise and collaborators)
- Don't forget to take breaks, move and go outside (respecting all applicable rules of social distancing of course)
- Avoid checking the news and social media too often as it can be linked to stress
What to focus on?
Some of you may be able to do all your usual work from home, only moving meetings from face-to-face to online. For others, especially those involved in experimental work, you will switch your focus to other tasks and may initially not know what to do...
Here are a few suggestions:
- In depth literature catch-up (and how about validating all that hard work by writing a review?)
- Getting your papers written or as advanced as possible (deciding on the paper's backbone, writing the introduction, making figures with available results, identifying experimental gaps to fill later etc.)
- Look at fellowship calls you could apply for, think about the project you would like to propose, look at training and get started!
- Offer to help your PI with grants they are writing
- Update your LinkedIn profile, CV and professional developmet documents (e.g. list your recent achievements)
- Engage with online professional development (there are a lot of resources available via the PDC, LinkedIn learning etc.)
- Search for potential careers you would be interested in and develop a career plan
- Think. We often focus on "doing" and forget about the "bigger picture" and the importance of planning
Tools and resources for remote working
Microsoft Teams... If you've never heard of it, you surely will in the upcoming weeks!
Teams is your essential tool to communicate; enabling text chat, calls, visio calls, group meetings, sharing files in a group etc. All staff and students have access to it for free via Office365, either in their browser or via Apps (for desktop, tablets and phones).
IT Services are providing help on how to use Office365, including tutored online training on Teams