Pharmaceutical Industry Experts Speak Out: Five Productivity Tips for Working from Home

by Don F. McLean, MBA

In the pharmaceutical industry, the right talent can often live in a variety of locations. When talking to our colleagues who have the privilege to work from home (WFH), we found that they are happy, productive, and active contributors to the workplace on a daily basis. According to an article on Inc.com, employee attrition decreases by 50 percent for those who work remotely and employees work a true full-shift, compared to those working in the office.

In discussing what makes them productive and efficient although working remotely, three of our pharmaceutical experts from clinical programming, transparency, and project management functional lines give their insights on the topic.

Have a dedicated workspace

Principal Clinical Programmer Narasimha Ayyalas says, “Having a dedicated and established work environment set up at home is vital; there should be no compromise on this. This will facilitate increased focus and productivity.”

“Your dedicated workspace should have a door,” says, Ashley Daniels, MHA, Project Manager. “By having a separate room for your office, you can close the door and focus when needed. It allows you to attend meetings or calls privately, without distractions while friends or family are visiting or if kids are home sick for the day.”

Daniels continues, “When working from home it can be very hard to turn work ‘off.’ Having a separate space allows you to separate the environment and unwind when work is over; and that is essential”

A dedicated room also ensures security of documents and data that one may store for work and allows confidentiality of work information to be stored separately. A home office must also be equipped with what the colleague needs to function effectively; things that may be easily available at a work place common area but not at home.

Recognize and address distractions early

“The deadline-centric environment that we work in drives my productivity,” says Kasim McLain, RAC, Manager, Disclosure Services. “I find that it is easy to stay productive when a deadline is looming and a sponsor is expecting a deliverable by a certain date. Although distractions exist whether you are working from the office or from home, it is very important to recognize the distractions that may eat into productivity, as they can be different in the two environments.”

McLain continues, “As with many people, I know that I am most productive in the morning, so I focus on working uninterrupted through lunch.”

According to workplace distraction research from Udemy, 40 percent of employees think that a flexible schedule and remote working options will reduce all distractions. However, not all distractions can be removed, and Daniels and Ayyalas have insights for that.

Daniels says, “Keeping the television off and music to a low volume to help reduce distractions and stay focused.”

Ayyalas adds, “Keeping an uncluttered work environment free from unnecessary items will keep your mind calmer.”

Most importantly, scheduling your work day in advance really helps. Unlike an office work-day, there is considerable flexibility when working from home and one can start early or end early depending on what the day needs. But, careful planning and discipline allows for that flexibility to be effective.

Take breaks when needed

“Small breaks are essential when working remotely,” adds McLain. “These few minutes serve to help work through a problem or figure out how to respond to an email without blankly staring at a computer screen.”

Sometimes, just sitting too long can be hard on your body. For remote workers, this can be a strain. Real Simple shares tips for How to Stretch at Work without even getting out of a chair.

McLain continues, “I do some of my best thinking while taking the dog for a short walk. You can never truly get away from work while working from home, but you can put your downtime to good use.”

Stay connected with the team at headquarters

A survey from Workplace by Facebook shows that 73 percent of small businesses will have colleagues working from home by 2028, but 54 percent of current remote workers feel disconnected from their companies.

Daniels recognizes this, saying “Building relationships and friendships with those that are at the main office or others who are remote are good ways to remain connected to the team. Skype and messaging systems are perfect conversation tools.”

“Be sure to reach out to all new hires and introduce yourself so that they know you are a resource whenever needed,” says Daniels. “Working from home can sometimes be a little lonely. By building strong relationships with team members, remote colleagues can continue to feel part of the team and involved in the company’s culture.”

Setting boundaries

“It is easy to work long hours when working from home,” says McLain. “There is no need to factor in commute times, pack lunch, or rush to get out the door. This makes it easy to jump back on the computer in the evening and work for a few hours.”

“In order to remain productive and avoid burn out, limit time in the evening as much as possible,” adds McLain.

Clients and colleagues alike should respect these boundaries unless an emergency and should not be disruptive of family time after work hours just because you are working from home.

In a previous blog for Expert Insights, Dr. Uma Sharma, Chief Scientific Officer, offered this advice. “There is nothing called “work-life balance.” It is all “life,” and work is just one part of it.”

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