Inside Amgen's “Virtual-First” Approach to Work

Like many companies managing the impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant portion of Amgen employees began working from home in March 2020. Amgen CEO Bob Bradway recently sent a letter to employees explaining that, “after much reflection on the many lessons learned over the past year, we have decided that most site-based staff working from home today will continue to work from home for the majority of their time – even after the pandemic has ended.” The decision was supported by internal surveys showing that more than 80% of employees working virtually wanted to maintain that flexibility in the future.

This was a pivotal moment, an opportunity to reimagine the future of working at Amgen. The goal: empower a global workforce to work when and where they are most productive, while also providing the flexibility to achieve work-life balance. The priority for Amgen is to find the right balance of virtual and in-person work with the goal of delivering the best outcomes for individuals, teams and patients. The company will also continue to prioritize the safety of its employees and their families, which means that appropriate restrictions for on-site visitation and off-site meetings will be continually examined. Amgen has also required COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Generally speaking, this new approach indentifies work arrangements falling into one of three categories:

Working as “Flexible Commuters”

“Flexible Commuters” are employees who primarily work virtually, but still have the opportunity to come to the office for work that benefits significantly from being face-to-face (such as for team meetings or to collaborate on projects). As these people may still need to come to a site or office occasionally, they should still live within a commutable distance of their Amgen site, and within their existing work country. Most Amgen employees who had been working virtually throughout the pandemic are continuing to operate with this “virtual first” mindset, as will new hires who fall into this category.

Working Remotely

The shift to a “virtual first” way of working has created expanded opportunities for existing employees to become fully remote should they wish to move to a different location if they choose to do so (beyond a commutable distance from their designated Amgen site, but still within their existing work country). The company also remains open to remote work opportunities for potential employees.

Working Primarily Onsite

A select group of Amgen employees who work in laboratories, manufacturing facilities, and other areas have been working onsite throughout the pandemic, following comprehensive safety measures. The kind of work they do requires them to be on-site regularly. As safety conditions permit, site access will be expanded to include additional employees who could benefit from access to onsite equipment, technology and workspaces. While Amgen’s facilities and office spaces around the world will continue to be part of the company’s culture, the company will also preserve what has been learned throughout the pandemic by offering flexibility to onsite employees for activities that may be best completed virtually.

We want to be intentional about where, when, how, and why we come together, rather than simply defaulting back to the old way of doing things. We will continue to invest in maintaining the vital culture and social architecture that has been, and will continue to be, critical to our shared success.
— Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO

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