Ipsen’s raison d’être is simple: patients depend on our innovative medicines and our mission is to provide them. Our motto is “patients can’t wait.” To fulfill that mission, our collaborators have to be able to perform. One of our key HR pillars is equally simple: We care for our people the way our people care for patients.

In a period of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the essential nature of these missions becomes even clearer. Regardless of what is happening in the world, there are thousands of people who depend on our medicines: we must be able to deliver. To be able to deliver our medicines, our colleagues must be safe and healthy.

How do you keep people safe and healthy during a global pandemic? First, we proactively planned and implemented a mostly virtual workplace, with over 75 percent of our employees, worldwide working from home. Secondly, we put in place a number of health initiatives, including apps to help everyone stay physically active. We also increased our communication channels to connect our people, including a dedicated news corner on our intranet and, in France, an internal radio station.

Protecting our people to protect patients

Beyond implementing a virtual work environment, we have had to be agile. When COVID-19 was detected at one of our manufacturing sites, we closed it for two weeks for disinfection and so our colleagues could self-quarantine. The outbreak was contained; the site resumed production. Our patients did not face shortages of our medicines because we acted early and quickly, avoiding a more serious outbreak. In other words, by protecting our people, we protect our patients.

"But whatever the future looks like, the crisis has highlighted the essential nature of our raison d’être. It has inspired our people, resulting in new levels of patient-centric innovation"

In turn, our colleagues have demonstrated incredible creativity and determination when it comes to supporting patients. Our Italian colleagues put together an innovative patient support program so cancer patients could access treatment without having to risk exposure in hospitals. Other countries are implementing similar programs as well.

When the pandemic first began, we all wondered how things would be different when the pandemic was over—in a few months. We’re now collectively beginning to realize that we will likely have to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future and have already begun adapting. After living through the fully remote workplace of the early days of the pandemic, it now looks more likely than ever that the future of work will be hybrid. Working from home has many benefits: better concentration, better work-life balance, a higher level of productivity for individual tasks and more. But so does working from the office: informal yet essential connections with colleagues, teambuilding, on-boarding of new team members, more effective collaborative work, etc. Managers will need to grow and adapt their strategies to ensure that all employees, regardless of where they are working from, feel confident and comfortable in their teams.

But whatever the future looks like, the crisis has highlighted the essential nature of our raison d’être. It has inspired our people, resulting in new levels of patient-centric innovation. And it is clearer than ever that the well-being of patients depends on the well-being of our people.