Background: From March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, workload within an academic clinical trials office increased and staff moved to remote and hybrid-remote working at home (WAH). This abstract describes a measure developed to encourage physical activity and co-worker networking within an academic clinical trials unit, and its performance over a 12 month period.

Methods: Between January-December 2021 a distance challenge was organised to promote physical activity. Participants logged their activity each month in km using a simple Microsoft Teams form under their own name or a pseudonym. All forms of exercise were accepted. All participants went into a random raffle for a monthly prize and an administrator tracked overall distance on a Google map, with monthly emails on ‘destinations’ and raffle winners. In month 12, a survey was sent to all staff members to gather feedback.

Results: 30 staff (45% of unit) participated in the initiative at some point. Activity levels diminished over time but average distance logged was 2584km/month. 22 participating staff provided feedback: 18 (82%) felt it encouraged them to stay active and 12 (57%) reported that it helped them cope with WFH. The monthly prize was not seen as a major incentive with the main motivations listed as contributing to an overall goal (36%), a personal challenge (18%), visibility/accountability (18%) and connecting with others (14%). Of those who did not participate, 5 shared why with added pressure and workload cited as the main reasons.

Conclusion: Initiatives to encourage physical activity and staff networking can help to support remote and hybrid-remote WAH staff. Incentives such as prizes had only a limited impact in motivating participation and engagement levels can wane even over a relatively short period. Any measure chosen should be easy to use and allow staff to engage with others.

Cite as

Ennis, H. 2022, 'Trialists heal thyselves: An evaluation of a workplace activity programme for remote and hybrid-working clinical trial staff', UK Trial Managers' Network Annual Conference, United Kingdom, 22 March - 23 March. https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/publications/fed49e58-a455-4950-9fd0-bdaaa688d23e

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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