Monday, August 29, 2011

Life sciences executives, are you seeing this trend in your organization?

We've seen a common thread running through our conversations with life sciences executives over the past 90 days, and I wanted to blog about it to see if you are experiencing or observing the same thing. I'm thinking this could be an emerging trend that we as an industry need to be paying attention to.

Our team has continued to hear life sciences executives talk about how they are planning to shut down parts of their physical campuses, and set up virtual workplaces and remote working programs.

Executives have told us the primary reason driving their creation of virtual workplaces is their need to shrink their cost centers. Training facilities, for instance, are one of the largest cost centers we hear life sciences executives talk about.
Global enterprises have multiple training facilities that they need to replicate around the world for all their training activities. But executives say if they take a virtual approach, they could create a virtual facility once and have all their attendees use it no matter where they are located.

SciMed's new Virtual Diabetes Institute is an example of this. It's a virtual training facility created in ProtoSphere for physicians caring for patients with Type 2 diabetes. We recently announced it in a press release, and more details and screen caps of the Virtual Diabetes Institute are on our blog.

Many life sciences executives we've talked to lately believe virtual workplaces like the Virtual Diabetes Institute is a sound and necessary solution. But it isn't without its challenges. Nearly all these executives are facing two major obstacles in their efforts to close physical buildings and set up virtual workplaces.

Firstly, they want to maintain their corporate culture and sense of togetherness and camaraderie while employees are working remotely. They're concerned that the lack of face time will dissolve the team spirit that drives creativity and innovation, and decrease the water cooler banter that helps make their company an enjoyable place to work.

In addition, executives want to increase engagement around knowledge transfer activities in a virtual workplace. They want to be able to conduct interactive training and learning activities, such as employee onboarding or clinical research, and see measureable improvements in knowledge retention and productivity.

In short, executives want to get rid of costs, but the work hasn't gone away. In fact, the work involved with product development and launches, training, continuing professional education, maintaining compliance, and so on, is increasing in the face of the need to decrease costs.

So here's what I'd like to know. Are we seeing the beginnings of an emerging trend in the way executives are striving to cut costs, maintain and foster corporate culture, and increase colleague and customer engagement?

Would love to know if this is something you're seeing where you work and how you're planning to deal with these issues.

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