By Katy Barber, Search Consultant
Remote working is STILL one of the hottest topics across the life sciences industry at the moment.
If the last two years during the Covid pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that remote working IS possible! We have had to adjust. We have had to learn to work through Microsoft Teams and Zoom instead of face-to-face meetings. The life sciences industry was thrown to the forefront during the Covid pandemic; relied upon more than ever to deliver safe products to the market, quicker than ever. On top of that, we couldn’t work in our usual HQ and office buildings, and even our manufacturing facilities had to reduce headcount to ensure safer working practices.
Over 80% of quality teams worked fully remote during the pandemic, and 99% of regulatory teams stayed at home.
The industry proved itself – developing, manufacturing & launching brand new covid vaccines across the world – FDA, MHRA, EMA regulatory bodies approving these – all whilst the majority of Quality and Regulatory worked from home. If we had mentioned this two years ago – no one would have thought this was possible – yet we have seen remarkable success.
So why in 2022 are we seeing such pressure to move Quality & Regulatory teams back to the office environment full time?
Quality has historically been based within a manufacturing facility. But over the last 5-10 years, the evolution of biotechnology organisations has given quality experts the chance to work remotely; the number of virtual companies is increasing. Working in complete partnerships with CROs and CMOs has meant that Quality professionals do not physically need to be present during the development phases. Therefore, Quality experts in the biotech field have become comfortable with remote working. The Quality individuals who work directly for a CRO or a CMO must be present to ensure that processes are running smoothly & safely, and this can only be carried out in person. Therefore, these people must be based on site, but we can offer them a level of flexibility. Work from home one or two days a week – rotate who needs to be on-site at any one time; if you are part of a team, you can share the site working with your colleagues. Obviously, there are exceptions; QC teams in the lab still need to be on-site 100% of the time. But QA & Quality Systems- we can offer them flexibility!
This month alone, we’ve spoken to many Regulatory individuals who are being pushed to move back into the office full time. Yet they claim to be more efficient working from home, fit more meetings into the day, have more time to prepare for audits & agency questions. The remote working day has become longer – we’ve swapped the daily commute & sitting in traffic, for more time at the desk, with fewer distractions around us. Even senior regulatory leaders are confident that remote working has improved their teams’ performance – teams have become more efficient and motivated and have found the best ways to collaborate – the use of video platforms allowing ongoing conversations as required. Of course, there is a fantastic argument for being back in the office- teams collaborate better, bounce ideas off each other – but does this need to be 100% of the time?
Hiring managers – if you are not offering flexibility to a candidate, you will NOT compete in this market! There are so many organisations competing for talent now that you will lose your employees if you don’t offer them flexibility whilst also not being able to hire anyone new.
Offering remote flexibility one or two days a week means you can widen your talent pool. Look for candidates who live further away; they may be happy to travel further to reach the site if they don’t need to do this every day of the week! Candidates may be open to other locations if they believe they have more time to be present at home- more time to enjoy their surroundings, more time to spend with family.
Here in the UK, we have seen many people moving out of the cities and into the countryside – not being based in the office 100% of the week means we are happy to commute further on those days we are required but can enjoy the benefits of living in the countryside. We are seeing this trend in various locations across the world; you don’t need to live in Boston or Basel – you can live further out and enjoy the benefits of both countryside AND city living.
At Fraser Dove International, we help life science organisations across the value chain to perfect their talent ecosystem. We have a select toolkit to help attract, assess, onboard, and retain your employees, whilst also primarily supporting with searches for the best talent. By perfecting this ecosystem, you can ensure you find the right talent that makes a bigger impact, faster, for longer.