THE WORK OF TOMORROW

People’s work is changing – not just since the COVID-19 pandemic. Boehringer Ingelheim is also changing and actively shaping the future of work, from virtual reality trainings up to smart office buildings and new work models.

IN PRODUCTION: VIRTUAL REALITY IN TRAINING AND EDUCATION

The production of pharmaceuticals is very complex and presents unique challenges for employees. Training and education in production is becoming increasingly important in order for the complex machinery to be operated properly. To improve the learning experience and learning success, Boehringer Ingelheim is using virtual reality more and more frequently. For example, to prepare its employees for work at the new Solids Launch Factory in Ingelheim, the company conducted training sessions on virtual machines before the factory was put into operation. “We have been working on the topic of virtual reality in training and education for a while now. The pressure to adapt and advance content and learning formats has increased significantly in the last few years,” says Holger Holakovsky, who is Head of Production Solids Launch at Boehringer Ingelheim and responsible for one of the pilot projects in the field of virtual reality. Virtual reality offers key advantages over conventional training methods: Everyone can learn at their own pace, different senses are appealed to, and the lessons learned are retained better. And there is another positive side effect – employees who are wary of digitalization are introduced to the topic in an active and playful way.

ON-SITE: SPACE FOR SHARING IDEAS AND COLLABORATION

The concept and design of office spaces has direct impacts on the well-being of the employees working there. Digitalization is one of the most important drivers of room design. “We want to provide our employees with a work environment that fulfills their need for more flexible, more transparent, and more effective collaboration in a highly connected world,” says Hagen Mörbel, Head of Business Process Excellence in Germany. The redesigned work day at Boehringer Ingelheim can look different from country to country and team to team. For example, in Lyon, France, and Ridgefield, Connecticut, USA, there are hardly any individual offices anymore. There is also a lot going on at company headquarters in Ingelheim. In late 2020, Boehringer Ingelheim opened a new smart office building there, where up to 1,000 employees can work in a state-of-the-art environment. The new six-story building is divided into different zones where employees spend time depending on their tasks. For example, there are co-working zones, multi-use spaces, and quiet zones. Offices are going to be designed for creative and cooperative work at other locations as well. The goal is to allow a greater exchange of ideas and collaboration between colleagues and to increase employee satisfaction.

In the new smart office building in Ingelheim, employees can work in a state-of-the-art environment.
IN THE FIELD: CLOSE TO PARTNERS DESPITE COVID - 19

For a research-driven biopharmaceutical company like Boehringer Ingelheim, it is very important to maintain a consistent dialogue with doctors. This is where the field force plays a key role. The COVID-19 pandemic presented the world with new challenges for personal contact in the healthcare sector – different countries were, and still are, affected to varying degrees. In order to remain close to doctors, the company took new routes. “Before COVID-19, I was on the road every day – the standard was seven to ten meetings with doctors in clinics. During the pandemic, many colleagues could only visit about half the doctors in medical practices, and the percentage was even lower at the hospitals,” explains Andrea Wagner, Pharmaceutical Representative at Boehringer Ingelheim. Since spring 2020, Wagner mainly speaks to doctors and hospital directors via video chat, e-mail, or by phone. It works well in many cases, she says, but it is less personal than meeting them at their offices. “We will certainly make more frequent use of the digital possibilities in the future, but the focus will still be on the personal contact with the customer,” says the pharmaceutical representative.

Andrea Wagner works as a Pharmaceutical Representative for Boehringer Ingelheim. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she mainly visits doctors virtually.

“WE CAN POSITION OURSELVES EVEN MORE CLEARLY”

Satisfied and motivated employees are a crucial factor for the success of Boehringer Ingelheim. That is why the company recently founded a new department that deals entirely with the strategic perspective regarding culture and people topics. Heiko Schmidt, Head of Culture and People Strategy at the company, explains how Boehringer Ingelheim promotes employee development and how it succeeds in competing for the best talent.

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