Pharmaceutical company Accord Healthcare has had a busy pandemic. Accord, which employs 1,200 people in the UK, supplies medicines to the NHS. The organisation manages every step of the process, from buying the raw products through to manufacturing and distributing medication.
Production went up in the early days of the pandemic, says Sandra Lee, managing director at Accord Healthcare UK. “In those early days, we were asking employees to be on the front-line,” she explains.
Safety measures were critical through the production process. “A lot of people were concerned about getting personal protective equipment (PPE),” explains Lee. “Through our supply chain, we have now been able to provide PPE to everyone who was concerned and combined it with antibody testing as well.”
Anyone whose onsite presence was not absolutely crucial was told to work from home, including Lee. The critical, front-line key workers were given a free packed lunch to ensure their safety while working onsite, and employee care packs were given out that contained a thermometer, vitamins, antibacterial gel and antibacterial wipes.
To support those employees working from home, Accord Healthcare deployed remote learning on mental health awareness, a health and safety for home workers course, and a stress awareness course.
From a recruitment perspective, remote working has been a real eye-opener, says Lee. “If [someone is] not tied to a site, the talent pool which is open to us is so much wider. In the past, we would have talked about relocation [the company has a significant site in Devon]; not any more.”
Accord Healthcare’s existing employees are working from home where possible, adds Lee. “In the past, my team would have been based onsite. But now, working from home is great for us. We have a five to 10-minute virtual meeting every morning to check in. As we interact with different time-zones, that has become easier. Different working patterns can also be more accommodating from a childcare point of view. We haven’t lost efficiency during the pandemic, so how can we preserve that flexibility?”
Lee’s team has focused on the idea of ‘one Accord’. From light-hearted weekly video calls on a Friday to more serious campaigns around plastic use, the focus has been on bringing people together.
Accord Healthcare also introduced the Make it Better awards, which recognise employees at every level of the business who are making a difference. Anyone in the business can nominate an individual or a team for an award, which are judged by the senior executive. The winners are announced by the organisation’s chief executive on a Friday video, and receive vouchers as a thank you. “It is about being part of a family,” says Lee.