As more biotechs start planning their return to the lab, much of the work is still being managed remotely. With employees managing more of their projects from home, new operational and psychological challenges interfere with a smooth workflow. How do biotech companies maintain the wellbeing and performance of their employees? Here are some approaches that companies take to keep their employees productive and happy.
1. Taking care of your employees
During a period of crisis, it is essential to consider employees’ individual needs and circumstances. Allowing people with personal concerns to work from home instead of going into the lab may well be the key to creating a healthy working environment. Many biotech companies are taking care of their employees’ wellbeing by making sure that anyone who is at-risk or has caretaking responsibilities has a choice of not coming in to work on-site. Some companies also plan out the shift-work for those coming into the lab based on their commute time. These labs also don’t expect those workers with a long commute to work to be on-site at all. Taking care of your workers is becoming increasingly important in times of crisis.
2. Ensuring comfortable remote workstations
Most lab workers are not used to the work-from-home conditions. Absence of appropriate workstations at home can take a toll on the productivity and wellbeing of employees. Biotech companies are ensuring that their employees have remote workstations that allow them to carry out their tasks comfortably. Some companies support their employees by subsidising their desktop set up and others are even providing funds to buy desks and chairs! Supporting the conditions in which employees conduct their work has proven to be critical for maintaining their wellbeing.
3. Supporting your employees
Laboratory scientists are used to a dynamic working environment with many elements of manual tasks combined with experimental work and team assignments. This is, of course, very different from the new working conditions that most scientists experience for the first time working at home. Many lab workers can find this transition stressful, affecting their wellbeing and productivity. There are several strategies that successful biotechs use to ensure a smooth transition to a new working environment at home:
- Continuing to keep the scientists engaged
Scientists who have been away from their lab workstation for a while may feel disengaged from the company’s priority work. Some biotechs assign at-home lab employees to lab-based teams to carry out data analysis and organisational tasks to help re-ignite the feeling of involvement and purpose.
- Using creative approaches to diversify monotonous work
Lab-based scientists are used to their work being unique and dynamic when they are in the lab. Many tasks carried out by lab scientists at home may appear monotonous and repetitive to them merely due to the nature of their regular work. Even functions like record-keeping become more daunting when it is not diluted with some lab work. In these situations, many companies take up creative approaches to such tasks – by introducing prizes and competitions to brighten things up.
- Ensuring appropriate breaks at work
With individual working conditions at home, it is easy to lose track of time and overwork. It is also much more challenging to take a break at home, as it is often difficult to separate work life from everyday life. This can take a toll on the wellbeing and overall morale of the team. Companies implement various initiatives to ensure employees take appropriate breaks – by holding online coffee breaks, games and quizzes.
- Working together with employees to identify high priority tasks
Many teams have identified that they perform to their best by holding work sessions in smaller group settings. One-to-one sessions to ensure understanding of priority tasks can make all the difference for the team’s productivity.
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