Is There Equity in Out of Office?

I think many of us are considering what work looks like, grappling with a return to offices, hybrid situations, and being fully remote. I think the media focuses rather extensively on companies like Apple, where a good chunk of the workforce seems to be up-in-arms about a mandatory return to the office.

In the pharma world, things are a little more complicated, especially as it applies to the quality profession.

At the heart sits the question, what sort of labs and manufacturing facilities do you have on site? This physical presence requires that certain employees be on-site. Which in most pharmas makes a bundle of those who must be on-site, and those who do not need to be on-site.

I understand the desire for those who can work remotely to want to work remotely. There are a lot of good reasons for working remotely, and I personally chose a company that was purely remote for a chunk of those.

But, and this is a big but, what does equity look like?

Take for example an average quality department. It is broken down into those who support labs, manufacturing, clinical trials and post-marketing surveillance (for simplicity). You thus have in the same department individuals who must be always on-site; who need to show up a few days a week; and those who can do their job perfectly well remotely. To complicate matters you might even have a big chunk of your partners (all those clinical trial, medical affairs, pharmacovigilance folks) that have no attention of coming back to the office.

So, what does equity look like? How do you treat these three camps? How to you compensate those who come into the office, that have commutes on top of their days that co-workers do not? How do you ensure everyone has equal opportunity to be seen, heard and participate? What does this organization look like?

I thnk this is one of the major challenges for quality organizations moving forward. I do not think there is one size fits all, and there is no easy answer.

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