The first and second installments of this blog series are focused on the microenvironment surrounding biotech job seekers – some tips they can use to navigate the new environment – and the acknowledgment that hiring for biotech jobs remains as candidate-driven as ever. For the third and final installation, I am taking a step back to outline some macro trends that may impact our lifestyles long after vaccines are widely distributed, and we reach herd immunity.
Nothing embodies the white-collar worker’s pandemic experience as perfectly as the shift to working remotely. While this increased flexibility may help improve work-life balance and give people much-needed family time, it can equally come with a myriad of challenges. The office is a social environment, and chatting with colleagues facilitates collaboration and increases creativity. As incredible a resource as video calls have proven, over time, remote work can extend the workday, diffuse work-life boundaries, and reduce mental wellbeing. To drive employee engagement and cultivate a sense of belonging in the virtual workplace, managers must hone their EQ along with their technical skills.
This is especially important because according to a survey conducted by Slack, only 12% of employees want to go back to the office full time, with 72% favoring a hybrid model where they spend a couple of days working from home and the rest in the office. Managers will have to navigate onboarding new employees, motivating teams, evaluating their performance, and identifying when a team member is struggling, all with limited face time. Once teams have the technology and tools to communicate and collaborate virtually, the next hurdle to clear is fostering a culture based on trust and strong personal relationships. Unfortunately, not everyone will be immediately successful, but those who thrive on in-person interactions must learn to translate that energy to a written and virtual setting.
This feeds into the next point, now that we expect to be in the office less and less, we must rethink how we utilize the space. When we all could be sitting at home, the office must differentiate itself. It has a chance to rebrand itself as a dynamic, energetic environment that facilitates communication and creativity. Vaibhav Gujral, a partner at McKinsey & Company, says, “organizations that get it right may emerge from the crisis ahead in the war for talent, with policies that employees prefer, and workplaces that are purpose-designed to be vibrant, foster collaboration, and cultivate productivity across this new way of working.”
Upheaval often provides opportunities to step back and re-evaluate things we usually wouldn’t have been able to if we had continued trudging along as usual. This is a rare chance to build back better by providing accommodations for people who might not have had access to specific opportunities because of relocation, disability, or caring for the family. There will be fewer excuses to exclude people from underrepresented groups, which could lead to unprecedented diversity in organizations.
Leaders within the Biotech industry have already outlined some changes that they hope become permanent, including virtual clinical trials and the embrace of digital technology. There is no reason returning-to-normal should entail leaving behind some of the adaptations we’ve adopted for the virtual world, especially when the benefits are so clear. The pandemic will indeed lead to lasting changes in our lifestyles and habits, and many will be for the best! If there is one message I want to leave with people seeking jobs right now, there is reason to look ahead with optimism.
If you don’t know where to start or want to discuss what the hiring landscape looks like in biotech right now, reach out to me or any of my colleagues on GQR’s Life Sciences team. We are always happy to connect!