2020 showed us that we can work under circumstances we never imagined – being more agile, collaborative, and innovative. Yet despite this, we were able to stay true to our values of transparency, respect, and integrity across the organization.
All our colleagues showed remarkable resilience and adaptiveness throughout 2020 and we implemented several wellbeing and support programs to help employees adapt to new ways of working. These included mental health resources, tools for employees managing family and homeschooling, and relief funds for those experiencing severe and unusual hardship as a result of the pandemic, as well as remote training in personal energy management and home office ergonomics guidance on how to work from home. We also offered all UCB employees time-off to volunteer in their communities and also implemented a company-wide “disconnection day” to allow our people an extra day of rest from the rigors of work and avoid burnout.
Prior to the pandemic, UCB was already transforming our ways of working, but COVID-19 pushed us to think more critically and creatively about how we can better support employees, based on greater awareness of the very different realities we all face. Understanding that we’ll likely be in a hybrid work model in the future, UCB is working across the globe to see how this can suit employees who all work differently, whether in the field, in the lab, in an office, or at a manufacturing site. Our new ways of working post-pandemic will not be one-size-fits-all – but we will continue to enable innovation, collaboration and co-creation, empower decision-making and authentic discussions within and across teams, and support all employees to focus on the value and impact of their work at all time.
Integrating employees’ insights
In March-April 2020, we fielded our first UCB Voices full census since 2017, which garnered a 76% response rate. This confirmed a strong employee engagement and confidence in our future, despite the unfolding pandemic:
Our second survey of 2020 was specifically about the impact of COVID-19 on employees. We asked employees around the world to reflect and share their learnings and experiences from 2020, particularly in relation to how their productivity levels were impacted by remote working and the type of working environment they would benefit from in future.
The majority of colleagues who answered the survey (79%) stated that they either do not feel that their productivity has been impacted by working remotely whatsoever (32%) or only to a small (24%) or moderate (23%) extent. While this is a positive finding, we are conscious of needing to further support those colleagues who do feel that remote working has impacted their productivity, either to a large (11%) or even a very large (5%) extent.
These insights, as well as our wider learnings from 2020, will guide us as we advance towards creating a welcoming working environment where all employees are able to create value for patients through their work, in whichever way best meets their individual needs.