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  • Writer's pictureRachael Hoad

A Possible End to Hybrid Work?

An increasing number of companies are urging employees to return to the office for a minimum of two to three days a week, justifying this move with claims of improved communication, enhanced productivity, and a more robust corporate culture. However, employees remain unconvinced. Most recently, Nike is requiring its staff to increase their in-office presence from three to four days per week, emphasizing the importance of in-person collaboration and enhanced productivity as the primary motivators. Nevertheless, remote work remains highly cherished by employees and stands out as a top company perk for prospective candidates, even surpassing salary in significance. In the post-pandemic era, it is imperative for businesses to place a strong emphasis on their employees' well-being and preferences. This means granting them the flexibility they rightly deserve to attain an improved work-life balance and perform at their highest potential.

In stark contrast, the CEO of Dropbox advocates for granting employees greater autonomy through remote work, stating that “employees are not resources to be controlled”. Employing a 90/10 rule, the company allows their employees to complete most of their work remotely. However they acknowledge that there is no substitute for the connection achieved in-person, but empowers employees to have the autonomy to choose when they decide to participate in-person. This shift in approach has the potential to establish a precedent for other firms. As remote and hybrid work options gain increasing popularity and necessity in today's world, inflexible policies of this nature may impede a company's ability to attract and retain top talent. It is essential for companies to acknowledge that the quality of work holds greater significance than the physical location where it is carried out. Companies, such as Nike, should concentrate on nurturing a culture that prioritizes results and embraces a diverse array of working styles instead of imposing a one-size-fits-all approach.

After more than three years of experience with remote work, it's now reasonable to wonder: Which positions in pharma are genuinely suited for remote work?

Since the onset of the pandemic, a large portion of roles in the life sciences industry that do not involve direct patient interaction have been performed remotely. This applies to the majority of drug discovery and preclinical experts, which is quite logical given that their responsibilities do not encompass patient care. It's difficult to dispute the well-documented advantages of including remote or virtual patient cohorts in clinical trials. These benefits include faster assessment timelines, broader inclusion of patients with rare conditions, and enhanced participation from underrepresented demographic groups, among others.

In the interim, employers have the ability to provide increased flexibility through various means. For instance, as observed in various other sectors, the adoption of new technologies, primarily automation, can often reduce the workforce required to run most facilities. Leveraging these technologies can yield additional advantages, however, it's essential to bear in mind that promoting teamwork, collaboration, and maintaining team cohesion should remain top priorities. While offering greater scheduling flexibility can be a compelling incentive for attracting manufacturing talent (potentially even improving your retention rate), it shouldn't come at the expense of the qualities that initially made your team exceptional.

Numerous pharmaceutical companies, especially those with expansive multi-location campuses, are facing challenges in devising a hybrid work approach. They find themselves immobilized by a decision-making dilemma, grappling with questions such as:

  • How can we encourage employees to return to the workplace while incorporating a hybrid system?

  • How do we guarantee that both in-office and remote staff engage in meaningful interactions that stimulate innovation?

GSK has emerged as one of the most receptive organizations to adopt a hybrid work model. After previously announcing a significant reduction in its office space in North Carolina last autumn, GSK is now revealing that it has redesigned its Canadian headquarters located in Mississauga. Executive leadership must embrace the significant changes brought on by the pandemic that have transformed the employment landscape. Leaders should acquire the knowledge necessary to effectively assist their employees in navigating this challenging period, where the very nature of work, not just the physical workspace, is evolving globally.



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