COVID-19 Impacts to Geoscience Business Staffing and Workplace Policies

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Although over half of geoscience businesses expect to see no change in permanent staffing during the 2020 calendar year, since June 2020, one-third of businesses reported that they expect a decrease in permanent staffing this year. Expec­tations for 2020 staffing levels for temporary and contract workers have been more varied, with the latest data indicating that nearly one-fifth of businesses expect a decrease in tem­porary and contract staffing, while 81% indicate no change from last year's staffing levels. It remains to be seen if this expectation for a decrease in temporary and contract staffing is tied to disruptions in supply chains and contractor availability, which 39% of businesses have reported as an impact from COVID-19.

Data Brief 2020-012 chart-01: Expectation for 2020 permanent staffing levels. (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Data Brief 2020-012 chart-02: Expectation for 2020 temporary and contract staffing levels. (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Throughout June and July, half of businesses reported that they had employees that were either on travel or working in the field, with most employees travelling to or doing fieldwork in limited locations. Ten percent of businesses reported that while some employees were on travel or doing fieldwork in limited locations, other employees were not travelling due to either institutional or departmental policies or due to their own personal decision.

Data Brief 2020-012 chart-03: Employees on travel or in the field (June-July 2020). (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Workplace policies available to employees have shifted over the past six months, with over half of businesses providing their employees with the option to work permanently from home. At the end of June, a higher percentage of businesses allowed their employees to work from the office and to access field site and lab facilities than in early July. We will continue to monitor this data to see how these workplace policies change relative to state and local regulations related to COVID-19 and workplace environments.

Data Brief 2020-012 chart-04: Workplace policies available to employees (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Note: Limited in-office attendance, fieldwork, and lab access were not survey answer options in February. However, some businesses noted in comments that fieldwork activities were available to their employees

We will continue to provide current snapshots on the impacts of COVID-19 on the geoscience enterprise throughout the year. For more information, and to participate in the study, please visit:

Funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation (Award #2029570). The results and interpretation of the survey are the views of the American Geosciences Institute and not those of the National Science Foundation.

Date updated: 2020-07-31
Data Brief 2020-012
Written and compiled by Leila Gonzales and Christopher Keane, AGI, July 2020

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