How to ‘Flex Work’ in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

What is Flex Work?

Flex work, known also as flexible working, means giving employees more control over when, where, and how they work.

This can include remote working, flexible hours, compressed workweeks, and job sharing. The idea really took off during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses had to adapt to keep things running smoothly.

Flexible working has become a big deal in many industries, and pharma is no exception. This blog dives into what flexible working is, where it came from, and why it’s important for the pharmaceutical sector. We’ll look at the benefits and challenges, different working models, and how to implement flex work in a way that works for everyone.

I know flexible working is a hot topic, and there’s a ton of stuff out there about it. I’ll focus on insights and tips tailored specifically for pharma companies, tackling industry-specific challenges and opportunities.

Best Way to Implement Flexible Working in Pharma

Bringing flexible working to the pharmaceutical industry takes some thought and planning. Here are some key steps to make it work:

  1. Assess Job Roles and Responsibilities: Not every job in pharma can be done remotely. Figure out which roles can be flexible without hurting productivity or compliance.
  2. Invest in Technology: Make sure employees have the right tech to do their jobs well from anywhere. This means secure VPNs, collaboration tools, and data management systems.
  3. Provide Training: Help employees and managers learn the skills they need for remote work. This includes using digital tools, good communication practices, and keeping a healthy work-life balance.
  4. Set Clear Expectations: Lay down the rules for flexible working. This includes work hours, availability, communication, and performance metrics.
  5. Monitor and Evaluate: Keep an eye on how well flexible working is going. Get feedback from employees and tweak things as needed to make it better.

Should a Four-Day Week Be Considered?

A four-day workweek is becoming popular as companies look to boost work-life balance and productivity. Here’s how it stacks up for the pharmaceutical industry:

Pros:

  • Enhanced Focus and Productivity: Shorter weeks can mean better focus and less burnout.
  • Attracting Talent: A four-day week is a great perk, helping you attract and keep top talent.
  • Reduced Operational Costs: Fewer workdays can cut down on utilities and other costs.

Cons:

  • Potential for Increased Workload: Employees might feel pressured to cram the same work into fewer days.
  • Scheduling Challenges: Coordinating meetings and deadlines in a shorter week can be tricky.
  • Impact on Client Services: Keeping up with client needs and project timelines could get tougher.

Should We Go Fully Remote, Hybrid, or Office-Based?

Choosing the right working model is key. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each:

Fully Remote:

  • Pros: Maximum flexibility, lower overhead costs, and higher job satisfaction.
  • Cons: Challenges with collaboration and maintaining company culture. Some roles, like lab work, can’t be done remotely.

Hybrid:

  • Pros: Best of both worlds—flexibility with some in-office time for face-to-face interaction.
  • Cons: Requires careful planning to ensure smooth transitions. Can lead to inconsistent team dynamics.

Office-Based:

  • Pros: Easy collaboration and access to on-site resources. Great for spontaneous discussions and team building.
  • Cons: Less flexibility and higher operational costs. Might not attract those seeking better work-life balance.

What is the Ratio of Home, Hybrid, Office Within Pharma?

Pharma is leaning towards hybrid models, with many companies adopting a mix of home and office work. The exact split varies, but hybrid setups are the most common as they offer a good balance of flexibility and collaboration.

Case Studies in the Pharmaceutical Industry about Flex Work Models

AstraZeneca uses a hybrid model, with employees working both from home and the office. This setup has boosted productivity and employee satisfaction. They’ve invested in digital tools to support remote work and set clear guidelines for effective communication.

GSK: Offers various flexible working options, including remote work, flexible hours, and part-time roles. These arrangements have increased employee engagement and reduced turnover. They also provide robust training for managers to handle remote teams effectively.

Novartis: Has a “Choice with Responsibility” policy, letting employees choose their work arrangements while meeting their responsibilities. This has created a culture of trust and accountability, leading to more innovation and collaboration.

Other Case Studies

Pharmaceutical organisations like MSD, Medtronic, Roche, Novartis, and UCB have been at the forefront of implementing effective hybrid working practices even before the pandemic. These companies operate as matrix organisations, with cross-functional and project-based teams rather than permanent teams.

Key takeaways from their experience:

  • Clear Framework: It’s essential to establish a clear framework for remote work. This includes defining rules (such as minimum or maximum days for working from home) that everyone can align with. Communicating this framework creatively, such as through podcasts or webinars, helps ensure consistency.
  • Balancing Management Styles: Managers need to strike a balance between nurturing team members (checking in on well-being) and focusing on output (deliverables). Adopting management by outcome—setting clear objectives and empowering individuals with autonomy—can lead to sustained success.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) – Sustained Implementation of Hybrid Working

  • The RPS developed a robust hybrid working strategy with the help of experts. Their step-by-step roadmap facilitated a smooth transition from the concept of hybrid working to its sustained implementation.

Flexible and Hybrid Working Practices: Case Studies by CIPD

  • The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) explores various aspects of flexible and hybrid working through case studies. These include transitioning to new ways of working, stakeholder engagement, technology adoption, managing hybrid teams, maintaining relationships, supporting well-being, and focusing on performance outcomes.

These case studies provide valuable insights into how pharmaceutical organisations have successfully embraced hybrid working models.

What next with Flex Work?

Pharma faces unique challenges and opportunities with flexible working. By understanding different models and implementing best practices, companies can create a work environment that supports both business goals and employee well-being. Whether it’s a four-day week, a hybrid model, or balancing remote and office work, the key is to stay flexible and responsive to the needs of the workforce.

In the end, flexible working isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Each pharma company needs to figure out what works best for them. By doing so, they can boost productivity, attract top talent, and ensure their employees are happy and healthy, driving the industry forward in a changing world.

OUR FOCUS ON LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS

At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework
please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

Please visit our website to see more of our knowledge hub: https://refind.co.uk/

Creating strong team culture in remote and hybrid teams

In today’s dynamic work landscape where remote and hybrid work models have become the new norm, fostering a strong team culture is more crucial than ever.

As teams navigate through virtual spaces, the traditional methods of team building may seem outdated. But, with intentional efforts and creative strategies, building a resilient team culture in remote or hybrid work environments is not only possible but essential for organisational success. This blog explores effective tips and innovative ideas to strengthen your team’s cohesion, collaboration, and camaraderie in the digital era.

Introduction: Navigating the Challenges of Remote and Hybrid Team Building

As organisations embrace flexible work arrangements, the need for effective remote team building has never been more evident. Despite the physical distance, creating a sense of unity and shared purpose among team members is a goal that leaders can achieve with the right strategies. In this blog, we delve into practical tips and creative ideas to foster a robust team culture that thrives in virtual or hybrid work settings.

Understanding the Foundations: Clear Communication and Shared Goals

It’s essential to lay down the foundations for remote and hybrid team building. We should make clear communication and shared goals serve as the bedrock for a cohesive team culture even when members are miles apart. Establishing these foundations ensures that everyone is on the same page, fostering a sense of unity.

Tip 1: Establishing Open Lines of Communication

In a remote and hybrid environment, communication becomes the lifeline of a team. Encourage regular check-ins, video meetings, and the use of collaborative communication tools. Emphasise the importance of transparent and honest communication to build trust among team members.

Tip 2: Define and Communicate Clear Goals

Clearly defined goals provide the team with a sense of purpose and direction. Ensure that every team member understands their role in achieving these goals. Regularly revisit and reassess objectives to adapt to the evolving nature of work.

Building a Virtual Watercooler: Nurturing Social Connections

One of the challenges of remote and hybrid work is the absence of casual interactions that occur naturally in an office setting. To recreate the camaraderie of a physical workplace, leaders must proactively create opportunities for social connections.

Tip 3: Virtual Coffee Breaks and Informal Chats

Schedule virtual coffee breaks or informal chat sessions where team members can discuss non-work-related topics. This simulates the spontaneous interactions that happen around the office watercooler, fostering a sense of community.

Tip 4: Team-Building Icebreaker Activities

Incorporate fun and interactive icebreaker activities into virtual meetings. This could include virtual games, quizzes, or team challenges that encourage collaboration and create a relaxed atmosphere.

Acknowledging Achievements: Virtual Recognition and Appreciation

In a remote and hybrid setting, it’s crucial to celebrate successes and recognise individual and collective achievements. Acknowledging accomplishments boosts morale and creates a positive team culture.

Tip 5: Virtual Recognition Platforms

Implement virtual recognition platforms where team members can give shout-outs or recognitions to their colleagues. This not only highlights achievements but also reinforces a culture of appreciation.

Tip 6: Celebratory Virtual Events

Organise virtual events to celebrate milestones, birthdays, or team anniversaries. This could include virtual parties, themed events, or team-building exercises tailored to the remote setting.

Developing Trust in a Digital Space: Team Bonding Activities

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful team, and building and maintaining trust in a remote setting requires intentional effort.

Tip 7: Team-Building Workshops

Host virtual team-building workshops that focus on trust-building exercises. These can include activities that encourage vulnerability, effective communication, and understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Tip 8: Cross-Functional Collaboration

Encourage cross-functional collaboration by creating opportunities for team members from different departments to work together on projects. Resulting in not only enhanceing the skills but also strengthening interdepartmental relationships.

Ensuring Inclusivity: Remote and Hybrid Team Building for Everyone

In a dispersed work environment, it’s essential to ensure that remote and hybrid team-building activities are inclusive and cater to the diverse needs of team members.

Tip 9: Flexible Scheduling for Global Teams

If your team spans different time zones, consider rotating meeting times to accommodate everyone. This ensures that team members from various locations can actively participate in team-building activities.

Tip 10: Inclusive Virtual Events

Also, when planning virtual events, consider cultural sensitivities and preferences. Ensure that activities are inclusive and respectful of diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of belonging for every team member.

Conclusion: Nurturing a Sustainable Remote and Hybrid Team Culture

Building a strong team culture in remote or hybrid work environments requires ongoing dedication and adaptability. By prioritising clear communication, social connections, recognition, trust-building, and inclusivity, leaders can create a resilient team culture that not only survives but thrives in the digital era. As the workplace continues to evolve, embracing innovative approaches to remote team building will be the key to fostering a collaborative and motivated remote workforce.

OUR FOCUS ON LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS

At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework
please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

Shared services: should we go hybrid?

Shared services: should we go hybrid?

I get lots of questions about the difference between BPO and SSC, so I’ve put together a simplified answer to help you out. Could the hybrid model be the way to go?

When large organisations grow, relocate, merge, acquire, or even consolidate different entities, typically there are two options on how they manage their operational processes.

The most popular option is a Shared Service Centre (SSC), however more and more organisations are now exploring the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) model.

The difference between Shared Service Centre’s and Business Process Outsourcing is that an SSC is an internal function of an organisation, and a BPO is typically an outsourced provider based offshore, and an external solution.

Business process outsourcing

BPOs tend to offer greater productivity due to technology, process and advanced systems and AI. With labour costs in these locations offering a more cost-effective solution in the long run, however the initial set up of an outsourced model can be costly initially, but over time will see a ROI.

This can be setup quickly and effectively, however, as long as your process isn’t completely unique, as BPOs tend to offer a more ‘one size fits all’ model.

The most popular locations for a BPO is India, Philippines and Central-Eastern Europe and SSCs most popular locations such as Europe and USA. With lower labour costs, and huge talent pools, it is an effective and more cost-effective solution when done right. With a BPO, you wouldn’t need to hire, train and retain your staff, but simply move into this model, and become operational in a short period of time.

BPO offers organisations scalability and opportunity for growth, as most tend to offer a 10-20% cost reduction to an SSC model.

Whilst, outsourcing can be implemented more quickly, not all vendors can offer the same quality service as an SSC. For example, if the vendor is based in Eastern Europe or Asia, Language barriers could also affect the quality of the deliverables.

Shared service centres

The SSC model offers a more bespoke solution and tend to give a company the ability to run systems like an internal service provider, allowing it flexibility. Companies make efficiencies through process standardisation, technology improvements and centralisation of services.

The SSC model offers more control over decisions, enabling a better service to the customers, suppliers and internal users.

A Shared Service Centre can closely monitor the performance and quality of the work done, which gives more control over the service being offered, however, having to install and maintain a new infrastructure can be costly, let alone having to train the employees.

The hybrid model

The big one – the hybrid model – is when organisations may opt in for both solutions and use a combination of both. Combing different models to ensure you are working towards the organisation’s goals, with lower risk activities such as Cash Allocation, Accounts Payable Processing and Reconciliations tend to be offshored. There is less room for error with these tasks and involve more processing than communication.

Typically, their more administrative functions and processing work would be outsourced, and the more strategic responsibilities are kept in house. This has many benefits – you’re getting the best of both worlds and in house and outsourced teams are a partnership and therefore work together for better results.

It’s a new buzz in the industry, but could the hybrid model be the future?

If you would like to discuss further, email me at sam@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about Sam Perry our Shared Services Executive Search expert here.

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