How a local biotech company found its hybrid working environment "groove"

Through listening to and incorporating employee feedback, BioCryst is creating the ideal hybrid work model -- complete with a new office space here in the Triangle.

Posted Updated
Abbey Slattery
, WRAL Digital Solutions
This article was written for our sponsor, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals.

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack — after the sudden switch to working from home, remote-friendly communications software brands have become household names.

A recent survey from Zippia found that 83% of U.S. employees want a hybrid work model. So, as many companies continue the transition back to in-person work, the question isn’t whether this technology will play into the new working model, but rather to what extent it will become part of standard information technology operations.

At BioCryst, a global biotech company, having access to the right software is just one small part of the solution to a successful hybrid working environment. The company recently opened a new office space at Frontier RTP, which was specifically designed with hybrid work in mind.

“We surveyed our employees and learned that a hybrid work model is so important to them. With that in mind, we engaged with an architect to design our new space and make it one that would encourage employees to come onsite when they need to collaborate with their teams and others, but was also a space where they could work independently if they chose to,” said Sue Hickman, office manager and executive assistant at BioCryst. “We really went back to the drawing board and threw out our old model of individual offices, and now we have a variety of conference rooms, large and small, that allow people to come in and collaborate, as well as individual workspace desks in a more open floor plan.”

Other highlights of the new campus include individual libraries where employees can do more focused work, lounge areas for social gatherings, and garage doors on conference rooms to allow for more capacity when needed.

Working alongside the architect team helped BioCryst leadership understand exactly what their employees were looking for in a workspace.

In addition to the physical space, new technologies and software are also being implemented to support the company’s hybrid working model.

“One collaboration tool we use regularly is Microsoft Teams, which allows our departments to work together on specific projects simultaneously, making meetings more productive regardless of where employees are based,” said Rico Scott, service desk manager at BioCryst. “In the labs in our Birmingham, AL campus, we’ve also deployed virtual reality headsets. The specific molecules our scientists create must fit specific proteins in the body like a glove fits the hand. Virtual reality technology enables us to visualize the 3D structure of the protein and design the molecules to fit it optimally.”

The IT team at BioCryst has worked together with other teams to determine the ideal software mix to ensure employees who are based remotely feel connected to their colleagues and engaged with company culture.

Moving forward, the most important thing is flexibility.

“This office space is a pilot of sorts to see what works and what could be improved,” said Scott. “We will continue to evolve and upgrade our technology, but having an ongoing dialogue with employees is essential to getting feedback and implementing any changes needed to ensure we are as flexible and efficient as possible.”

Similarly, the office space at Frontier RTP also heavily relies on employee feedback. In fact, BioCryst regularly takes a pulse check through surveys and other touchpoints and uses these data to determine which adjustments need to be considered.

In doing so, they hope to create the ideal hybrid office for all employees who choose to use it – not only here in the Triangle, but across its facilities around the globe.

“We’re being very proactive in soliciting feedback from our employees throughout the year thanks to polling technology, but we also now have tools that help us identify areas of improvement. For example, since office reservations are made on a dedicated app, we can see which rooms or spaces aren’t being used, then reach out to employees and say, ‘What can we do to make this section of our office more user-friendly? What’s missing?’” said Hickman. “We will constantly monitor so that we can make it the best work environment for our employees. I think that will set us apart because it’s impossible to overstate the importance of listening to our teams.”

“We designed this space to be very nimble at reconfiguring any particular zone or workspace in our office to better suit the needs of employees,” she added. “We impress upon every employee from day one that they're an owner — not a renter — of this company. Their opinions matter, what they contribute matters, and we want to encourage them to find and build the environment that best helps them succeed.”

This article was written for our sponsor, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals.


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