Remote working in LIMS industry
Amber: Gloria, you have been working in the LIMS industry for your entire career. There is a wealth of knowledge you could share with us given your experience and we’re going to do that throughout the next few shows. First, we’re going to start with the topic of remote working. Today, being able to work remotely is more important than ever. For some industries, this is a new paradigm the business has to learn how to operate in. For others, this is just another day, business as usual. I understand you have been working on the LIMS projects remotely the majority of your time, and I personally have spent significant time on working from home as well. Why do you think remote working has been so popular in the LIMS industry? Gloria: Well, Amber, I think the most important reason is because we're so spread out, except for a few geographic areas. Most of the world's cities don't have LIMS people in them, except for employees of specific customers. So unless you're in one of the regions where there's a huge activity, if your plants are built up into the countryside, for example, you're not going to be close to very many LIMS people once again, except for the people you've employed locally at your own system. And so even if there was somebody around, even if you looked in your region and you found a person, the chances are against you that they would happen to specialize in whatever system you're running. And considering that travel is so expensive and time consuming, it just then an easy way to get a little bit of work done for a good price for many years. And this goes back before the Internet, back when there was dial up and other types of tools. It's just there's always been ways to provide this. And for a lot of customers, it's a way to get more work done for less money, because once again, you're not paying the exorbitant travel costs. And sometimes some companies also charge you for the time that the person is traveling, which means you're paying for yet more time. That's not necessarily being used towards getting the work done. Amber: Many love the concept of remote working and not having to waste time commuting. It's not as simple as having an Internet connection and just open your laptop and work. In fact, it's been proven that it can be unproductive for many peoples. Why is that? Gloria: Well, if you've got bad management or bad project management, for example, communication problems tend to be an issue with some projects or groups. But if you don't have those problems worked out, they'll be exaggerated by sending people off site. It's hard enough to manage people when you can see their face. Then when you can't see their face or even if you can see through video conferencing, it's still more difficult. You don't have the same kind of contact with them. So any problems you have will be coming in magnified. And if you weren't getting work done before, you will probably get in most cases, you'll get less done once you send them remotely. The other thing is that, you know, it's like anything else, it requires planning. You don't just send people out. You don't just get rid of the office and send your team out to work remotely. You have to plan for it. There are just logistical issues, technology issues. There are just all sorts of things that you have to work out before you get them out there. If you're the type of person who says, let's just throw things at the wall and see what sticks. That kind of approach isn't going to work with this. And it's going to be frustrating to people because it will take them too long to become productive. And to expand on that, some companies worry that if they sent people remotely that those people are going to sit around and eat bonbons and watch TV and play with their kids, do the laundry, and they're not going to get things done. There are a couple responses I have to that. First of all. Some people really are not meant for remote work. They have to have an office setting. They just really don't like working remotely. They get distracted too easily. They get lonely. But for the people who can work out in this, you're going to find out pretty quickly whether they work it out or not. Once you get all the technical issues worked out, they will be productive very quickly and they will remain productive. The people who just never quite make it, who always have some kind of additional excuse, they are probably just not going to become productive with this. And you're going to be able to tell really easily because as you monitor their work, you're gonna be able to see if they're produced network or not. And it's not going to be by slight margins. You're not going to see that somebody is ninety two percent as productive as before or one hundred and two percent as productive as before necessarily. You're just going to see they go from on a percent to zero and a lot of cases 100 percent to 10. It's usually going to be a significant change if it's not working out. But with that said, some of the comments I just made are a little bit more focused on your employees because you have more control over them. And when we start to talk about consultants, you don't have the same kind of control over them that you do with your employees. And there are times where you have consultants that work well remotely or don't work well remotely. You just have less control over it. You have to come up with slightly different strategies than you do when we're talking about people that you employ and pay because you're not handpicking them. And whether they can be replaced or not is a slightly different issue. So but even past that, going back to employees again, some people are never going to like it. They're never going to really want to do it long term. And that's something you're going to have to think about, depending what kind of situation you're in, whether you're just doing it a few days a week, whether you're getting rid of an office, whether it's something temporary while the building is not available. But you're going to have to address what people's preferences are at least a little bit. Amber: This is the opportunity for business to rethink how they operate not just over next few months, but far into the future. What can be done to improve the productivity of the remote workers in LIMS industry? Gloria: There are really three. They sound like simple steps, but there are a lot of work. Number one is plan. Number two is monitor. Number three is adjust. So for one, talk to your team, because a lot of them might have ideas on what will work and what won't work. But when I talk about planning, that's an opportunity to see if they have some thoughts that are helpful when you're monitoring it. You need to talk to them about what's working, what's not working and how to adjust. That's less stuff. You have to be adjusting this. So I had worked with a team, with a large company that had never done remote work before, and they just decided that they didn't have a building for the big project they were going to do. They had people from all over the world working on the project. It wasn't even practical to bring them all on site. And they just plain said, we're going to make this work. And as a team, we actually had time set aside each week for maybe the first month or two of the project where we just talked about what's working, what's not working. And after that, I think they would ask the question maybe every month or so just just to see if we were still on track. But we found all sorts of unexpected things that we wanted to adjust. A lot of them were easy adjustments. There was nothing that cost any money or any major changes to the project plan, just habits that we could all change in order to work better together. And and it was a terrific project. People were super productive. And once again, this was a this was a large Team. Amber: Thank you for sharing your experience, Gloria. Hope everyone can come up with a productive plan for working from home. Gloria: Thanks, Amber. It's been great to be here today.