How Workplace helped AstraZeneca manage its pandemic response
Leading biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca now connects 70,000 employees globally on Workplace. The platform played a key part in helping the company’s response to the pandemic and in shaping its future strategy.
As an early adopter of Workplace, AstraZeneca knows it’s so much more than just a communications tool. Workplace has been the place where AstraZeneca celebrates its big successes, while helping employees to form global connections and communities.
Connecting everyone in a global pandemic
Introduced as a pilot for the global manufacturing and supply teams in 2017, Workplace was a hit from the start, being rolled out across the rest of the company in early 2018. What made Workplace a success at AstraZeneca? People were familiar with Facebook features and knew how to use them. Fast-forward to 2021, and Workplace is key to everyday working at AstraZeneca, breaking down barriers between 70,000 employees across more than 100 countries.
And never was it a more vital tool than in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen AstraZeneca working around the clock to deliver scientific breakthroughs, and support humanitarian relief and donation efforts.
“We recognized we had to pivot rapidly to digital across all areas of operations, so medicines - from oncology, through to respiratory, immunology and cardiovascular disease - could continue to reach patients,” says Alun Metford, AstraZeneca’s Head of Internal Comms.
At the same time, the company needed to help employees adjust to new ways of working - which is when Workplace truly came to the fore. Whether working from home, in labs, or in the field, Workplace ensured everyone could remain connected. This included sharing the latest updates and company guidance from leadership, including CEO Pascal Soriot himself. “Workplace let us celebrate the heartwarming moments,” says Metford, “and it really allowed people to see the impact our company was making.”
Crowdsourcing the future of AstraZeneca
In turn, Workplace became a hub for sharing ideas towards AstraZeneca’s future business strategy, providing an important new way to enable employees to drive progress. “We’ve always been a very inclusive company,” Metford says. “The best ideas can come from anywhere, it’s not about top-down. Many ideas from employees form the central parts of our strategy and actions, whether they’re big ideas or individual initiatives.”
This belief previously led to the foundation of AstraZeneca’s enterprise crowdsourcing program, which is now even more accessible to employees through Workplace. Leveraging a Sideways6 integration, the company has boosted two-way engagement and participation, enabling employees across the business to contribute future-focused ideas. A 2020 event held on Workplace to help inform AstraZeneca’s growth strategy saw 56,000 ideas submitted by employees in two weeks, resulting in millions of dollars of investment. Another event designed to capture pandemic learnings resulted in a further 24,000 ideas.
It’s not surprising then that a whopping 94 percent of AstraZeneca’s workforce believes in the company’s future direction, with 89 percent saying it’s a great place to work. And, as Metford says, “Workplace has been key to AstraZeneca’s high employee engagement rates by helping us drive tangible change and adjust to the changing nature of how we all work.”
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The future of work
Looking ahead to 2022, AstraZeneca expects Workplace to continue playing a vital role in both delivering real business value and maintaining strong employee engagement. Having recently acquired Alexion, Workplace will be used to connect 4,000+ new employees with the rest of the AstraZeneca community.
“Workplace will play a central role as we adjust to the next normal,” Metford says. “Every day I share examples of things I see on Workplace that make me feel proud - from scientific news we’re announcing to how we’re transforming healthcare. Workplace has helped us facilitate and raise awareness of the impact we’re making to patients and society, while celebrating individuals who have delivered that.”
Workplace’s Head of EMEA Nazir Ul-Ghani said: “AstraZeneca has not only been a leader in its response to the pandemic, but it has also maintained high levels of engagement and continued to provide opportunities for its people to shape the business they work for. Workplace is extremely proud to have played a part in enabling this and helping over 70,000 AstraZeneca employees to connect, engage and innovate together.”