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Case study

Revolutionizing digital collaboration at work

Global biopharma company embraces innovation to improve work-life balance.

Call for change

Striking balance between personal and professional

What if success at work revolved around results? What if collaborating and connecting with colleagues didn’t depend on location? What if your priorities dictated your calendar instead of the other way around? What if you could be truly empowered at work?

Leaders at a global biopharma company wanted to answer these questions … once and for all.

The company faced steep challenges when it came to helping employees strike a balance between professional and personal lives. After listening to employees, the company recognized the need to:

  • Improve engagement outside of meetings through digital methods
  • Allow for flexibility in daily schedules at all levels of the organization
  • Improve innovation, productivity and creativity by prioritizing focus time

This kind of transformation journey is easier said than done, but the company was determined to prove they could drive desired outcomes and improve patient results with a flexible mindset on how, where and when work happens.

When tech meets human ingenuity

Unlocking flexibility, collaboration and results

Accenture working with the biopharma company, developed a unique human-centered approach that has changed the way work happens and changed the way employees approach their lives. The solution democratizes how people achieve results, improving the way leaders work with their teams and increasing trust.

The project included in-depth research, creation of over 150 content assets, and embedding a “Net Better Off practice.” The success of the program depends on trust and the universal adoption of simple yet significant changes.

For team effectiveness, we designed a change management approach to drive a more outcome-focused organization. For better engagement, we created a digital worker toolkit centered around Microsoft Teams. For flexibility, we designed strategies to help employees better manage their time.

The team developed more than 50 supporting products—including collaboration technology to reduce email traffic and opt-in experiential learning using NextGen learning methods and tools.

So how does this look in practice?

One of the teams was tapped to nurture and measure the empowerment of a people mindset before rolling out to the rest of the company. The pilot launch included half-day experiences, coaching and operating models to transform the team’s ways of working.

For example, some employees in this group were in 40-50 hours of meetings, with approximately ten hours of meetings a week outside of “working hours” and back-to-back meetings, without a break. The team launched two experiments to address this issue. First, they instituted virtual commutes with a five-minute gap between meetings. Second, the team moved meetings from outside to inside working hours as set in Microsoft Outlook. Teams were also given the tools to collaborate digitally to enhance the effectiveness of work happening globally.

A new digital platform

Microsoft’s centralized platform helped the client transition to a unified digital space for communication and collaboration. Additionally, Microsoft Viva Insights, which helps users auto-schedule their work time, helps company employees analyze recent work patterns so they can adjust their schedules and actions accordingly. Microsoft Planner is also used to assist employees in aligning with individual and team priorities daily.

Throughout the transformation process, employees and managers were encouraged to stay aligned on priorities and progress while all involved tested flexible approaches to when and where they work. The focus was on the result and providing the employee with the flexibility to achieve it.

There has been a 30% increase in one-on-one meetings with managers at least once a month, an indication that employees are more connected and almost half of employees reported that they are more empowered to get work done more flexibly.

A valuable difference

Putting people first and reaping remarkable results

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

The company has successfully shifted away from a “presenteeism” culture, where meetings are the primary way for employees to demonstrate their value. Teams now use digital collaboration to fuel progress. The pressure to “always be on” has lessened, thanks to the increased trust and flexibility on how, when and where they work. And employees now have clear, regularly updated shortlists of priorities that reflect the latest needs of the business and expectations of managers and teams.

Employees have expressed that the new approach gives them hope that they can now do what they love without sacrificing their personal lives. Before the implementation of this solution, some had said they were considering leaving their jobs. However, they now believe they can stay and continue to serve patients. Others shared anecdotes of how their daily lives have improved.

Going forward, the desire is to continue the shift away from heavy email traffic and more toward collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, to have days with shorter, less frequent and more effective meetings to enable employees to have a greater sense of ownership and trust.

The company’s bold experiment has demonstrated that an organization can achieve outstanding results by putting its people first, and the company is committed to deliberately driving this change going forward.

Can you be truly empowered at work? At this global biopharma company, the answer is yes.