Article | Jun 5, 2020

      Omar Alijevic - Learnings from lockdown

      "In the long term my work could be split between home-office and lab work."


      Omar Alijevic, Product Safety Toxicology team


      1. What area of research do you work on, and how did the lockdown change your workflow? 

      I study ion channels; proteins forming tunnel-like structures in the plasma membrane, important to mediate electrical activity in our body (cardiac and neuronal for example). Before the lockdown my typical day was performing experiments in the lab. After the lockdown, I rarely went to the lab and instead focused on analyzing data, writing a new paper, and developing new scientific hypotheses.


      2. What do you think your "new normal" will be? 

      In the long term, my work could be split between home-office and lab work. The "new normal" could look like this: alternate between 2 weeks of lab work and 1 week of home-office for data analysis and report writing. My advice to other scientists is that they should stimulate more instances of necessary debate and communication while cutting unnecessary lab-work.


      3. What changes did you make in response to the lockdown that you’d like to keep in place in the future? 

      Certainly, mental health changes were especially necessary to sustain the lockdown. I had to reduce the unnecessary work and differentiate between the necessary versus unnecessary tasks in order to focus on the most important activities. I am also more prone to develop new initiatives on my own and would like to keep working on other things, unrelated to my day-to-day work, but relevant to the company’s general goals and strategy, such as developing the technical features of our Tobacco Heating System (THS), new products and new ideas to promote the conversion from cigarettes to THS, among others.


      4. How do you think business travel will be impacted?   

      It should be assessed what business trip is business critical and which one is not. A team could be put in place to establish criteria to help assess what deserves an in-person meeting and traveling, or what should remain a conference call.


      5. How did the lockdown change your household’s daily routine?  

      I have three daughters, and both my wife and I were still working. With the schools closed we took turns with childcare and work. When I worked, she took care of our daughters and vice-versa. We homeschooled, played games, made sure that they did not destroy our home, took a siesta and so on. Of course, our conference calls were always held in the presence of, at least, one daughter. Personally, I regained some working time during the night and the weekends.