Paul Reed has learned a lot of things over his years in the pharmaceutical industry, but when it comes to people, one universal adage sticks.
What I’ve learned is that the happier your coworkers are, the more engaged they are. It sounds simple, but it is very difficult to achieve,” said Reid, country manager at Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, part of the global pharma giant.
The COVID-19 pandemic has helped by forcing the biggest workplace upheaval of this century and perhaps the last.
According to Reid, it has taken a pandemic to prove that employees can indeed work from home. The discovery has turned the workplace on its head.
Remote working, virtual meetings, flexible working hours?
“These were the kind of things we were thinking about pre-Covid, but we never implemented them properly because we were all worried that we would lose productivity, that we might not even fulfill our roles. Will find it,” Reid said.
“But in reality, we are finding the opposite. People are happy when there is a little flexibility.”
Now, after two years of remote work, companies around the world are now looking for a way for employees to go back to the office and, according to Reid, bring them back to a vastly changed workplace.
Reed, who has been with Pfizer Healthcare Ireland for two decades, oversees 4,000 employees at five sites in Cork, Dublin and Kildare. The company is the largest pharma employer in Ireland. Employees there played an “enabling” role in the production of a two-dose comorbidity vaccine, the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech. The company’s other “game changer” drug, Paxlovid, a Covid-19 antiviral pill, is manufactured here at the sites in Newbridge and Ringschild.
Immediately after the lockdown in March 2020, those employees who could be asked to work from home.
“Working in a virtual environment, we found that coworkers were probably working longer hours. They were probably tied to their desk – the desk of their home – more than ever. He didn’t have the opportunity to interact with his colleagues, just getting up from his desk,” Reid said.
“So, we put a lot of effort into injecting a little bit of fun. We had many, many initiatives, like yoga, virtual yoga, we had quizzes, mental health seminars, we had speakers on health topics. We had people at home for the day. Did as much as I could to break away from the monotony of everyday work.
When the pandemic put Christmas parties to the side, TeaHe late late toy show became a replacement. company sent toy show Pack, which includes throws, hot chocolate, treats, snacks, and vouchers for family takeaways.
Now Reed Pfizer Healthcare is encouraging Ireland workers to return to work, although not necessarily to pre-pandemic routines.
At first, the return will be gradual. The company is taking a cautious approach, closely watching the Covid-19 numbers.
“We are still not allowing all colleagues to return to the site for health and safety reasons, as we have our own internal metrics in terms of the number of new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 in the population. Until we reach our own metrics, we will not allow everyone to go back,” Reid said.
The current national 14-day incidence rate is 419 cases per 100,000 population as of May 3, so Pfizer’s metrics are clearly low.
The company is promoting a “hybrid” workplace model.
“So, you’re going to be working remotely, but you’ll also have an in-person engagement in the office or on site. It will be their choice, along with their manager, how much they work from home and how much they work on site. are,” Reid said.
“You can be on site two days a week, three days a week. We are not making it mandatory for how many days you have to stay on the site. But we’re encouraging coworkers to come, that it’s a good connection point, it’s important to our culture, it gives people a sense of belonging. Only when you are on the site can you touch and feel that you work for an organization. People can work from home, and we continue to encourage that, if it works out better for them. So, it’s a completely flexible model.”
Ultimately, Reed believes this is the future of the workplace.
“I think we have to empower colleagues in a variety of roles to design their own workdays. I think that way, you’re going to see better productivity. We’ve seen this in some roles already People have better work-life balance. Also, I think it will allow us to attract better talent. You will get more diverse talent because you are known to have a flexible work environment,” he added .
“Joy” is one of the company’s four core values along with Courage, Excellence and Equity. According to Reed, it’s as much about taking pride in one’s work as it is about “having fun” with coworkers. Fun innovations include “spontaneous moments of joy” in which coworkers are encouraged to take time out for coffee or send e-cards.
The company also has a once-a-quarter meeting-free week, except for those considered “business critical.” “It’s not that you stop working. But it does give you a little bit of head space off your email, where you start to think more strategically, you’ll start to see how you can simplify your work.” How can you cut out some of the red tape that exists, and let’s face it, red tape exists in pharma because we are heavily regulated,” Reid said.
Diversity is another Pfizer key word. The Pfizer Group has an entire division dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion in the US.
The uptick in the pandemic isn’t just financial for the pharmaceutical industry. (The US parent of Pfizer’s Healthcare Ireland doubled annual sales and profits to $81.3 billion in 2021, largely due to the COVID-19 vaccine)
Vaccines have undoubtedly saved lives and changed the course of the pandemic. Confidence in the vaccine is evident in the high uptake among Irish people, with 95.2 percent of adults fully immunized. Surveys show that public confidence in healthcare has increased.
According to Reed, highly qualified “talent” as well as budding scientists want to be a part of it. “I think we are becoming a much more attractive proposition for graduates because I think they can see the value that we were able to bring to society during a particularly challenging time during the pandemic,” Reid he said.
“When you look at pipelines in terms of exciting new treatments coming in the future, it’s probably giving people a little bit of security that there’s a lot more to come in terms of applied science from this area, which is good.”
For Reid and his colleagues, the uplift was immense from being part of the global giant that produced billions of doses of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine.
“To be honest, if you talk to colleagues, they are very proud of what Pfizer was able to achieve with BioNTech,” he said. “We got approval for a vaccine for a virus that no one had even thought of and the speed with which we did it was certainly not possible,” he said.
“If we hadn’t had a vaccine as soon as that, we probably would have been in a very different place now. Through a two-dose vaccination program, we are able to help prevent people from becoming infected with the virus, but from being hospitalized and, in some cases, even dying. I think this is something that colleagues are very aware of and very proud that Pfizer was involved. ,