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Is remote working the missing ingredient in your recruitment offering?

Written by: Taylor Hardy
Date: 03 May 2018

What’s the best way to attract and retain top talent in pharma? Increasingly, flexible working is being prioritized by candidates alongside pay, conditions and development opportunities. Employers who enable remote working communicate trust to their employees – and the reward is often a boom in productivity.

The increasing shift towards remote working

According to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report, telecommuting has grown 115% over the last decade. Whereas once the practice might have been associated with particular professions or lifestyles, remote working is now mainstream and candidates increasingly expect employers to be open to it.

More than 43% of employed Americans reported working remotely for at least part of the time in 2016, according to a recent Gallup survey reported in the New York Times1. Almost one third of homeworkers said they worked remotely for four or five days a week, while the number working remotely for one day or less per week fell to 25%.

If you think the trend is all about Millennials with high expectations of employers, think again.  Gallup researchersfound that 33% of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers would consider changing jobs for a flexible working location where you can choose to work off-site part time; for Millennials the figure was 50%. Full-time flexible working would lure 31% of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers and 47% of Millennials.

Why pharma has been slow to adopt the practice

Most sectors now embrace remote working, but pharma lags behind in adopting the working mode. For example, 57% of workers3 in IT and mathematical roles have the opportunity to work remotely at least part of the time, as do 47% of those in finance, insurance and real estate and 41% in science, engineering and architecture.

The pharmaceutical industry has a lower rate of take up, in part explained by the industry’s reliance on laboratories for R&D work. Only five of the Top 100 companies4 for remote working are in the Life Sciences field.

As a state, Massachusetts also has a low level of remote working5. Only 4.7% of MA employees are full-time telecommuters, ranking it twentieth among all the states.

Benefits of remote working - for employers and employees alike

One of the most obvious benefits of remote working for employers is that you’re giving employees what they want. A recent survey6 of over 5,500 professionals found that 81% of respondents preferred full time telecommuting to other flexible working options such as part-time telecommuting, freelancing and flexible scheduling.

Telecommuting often produces a boost to worker productivity. Removed from the distractions of the office environment and the stresses of the daily commute, employees often find they have more time to be healthier and more fulfilled, arranging their daily schedule to maximize productivity. A 2014 study by PGi7 found that 80% of remote workers reported higher morale, 82% said it had helped reduce stress and 69% reported lower absenteeism.

Remote working is also an important tool in attracting and retaining talent of people who might find it harder to get into work, such as people with disabilities, parents of young children and older people – 74% of Americans over 658 say they want work flexibility.

How can pharma embrace remote working?

R&D roles are the only truly lab-based positions. Whilst regulatory and quality professionals will be responsible for ensuring compliance within the lab environment, their physical presence may not be required on site every day, therefore raising the possibility for remote working.

However, with cloud computing and modern communication platforms, the vast majority of other roles can be performed totally or partially off-site. Those working in clinical operations, commercial roles, medical affairs, medical writers and data analysts are all great examples of professionals who could make the transition to remote working.

Are you ready to boost your recruitment program by offering remote working? Contact Taylor.Hardy@epmscientific.com to discuss your plans.

Sources:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/us/remote-workers-work-from-home.html
  2. https://qualityincentivecompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SOAW-2017.pdf
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/15/us/remote-workers-work-from-home.html
  4. https://www.forbes.com/forbes/welcome/?toURL=https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2018/01/17/work-from-home-2018-the-top-100-companies-for-remote-jobs/&refURL=&referrer=#1dbce3dc76f0
  5. https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/infographic-which-states-have-most-full-time-telecommuters/
  6. https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/productive-working-remotely-top-companies-hiring/
  7. https://www.slideshare.net/PGi/state-of-telecommuting-2014-pgi-report/1
  8. http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2013/05/16/10-Best-Jobs-for-Americans-Over-65