How Pfizer are looking after its people by adopting a Poly-working culture


As a part of our research into the evolution of hybrid-working and the rise of Poly-working, we spoke to business leaders who were able to give us a personal account of what flexible working means to them and their organisation. 

If you’re new to the term, Poly-working is the approach to workplace culture that offers people true work flexibility. Poly-working is business leaders knowing that work represents a different slice of the life pie to each individual. Poly-working is knowing that we can’t go back to 2019 ways of working – people want to work from home (or not), they want to be a present parent at sports day, they want more time to do what makes them happy, which in turn makes them a more productive employee. We believe that Poly-working is the future and we’ve done our research to show you why. 

Emma Berry, Senior Director and Global Lead or Colleague Communications and Engagement at Pfizer, was kind enough to share her experience of Poly-working with us. 

With 57.6% of HR leads calling for ‘empathetic and supportive’ leaders to help transition the workplace into this new phase, it’s great to see a company being just that. Take it away, Emma…

For me personally, flexible working started long before the pandemic, as I was in roles that covered large geographies and time zones. It has become increasingly important to me over time as it gave me a chance to juggle my family and personal commitments and helped give me balance in my life. Even though my daughters are now grown up, I still value the flexibility I have to manage my health and personal energy as well as prioritise my relationships. It actually makes me far more energised and effective in my work.

‘And at Pfizer we have a culture that puts colleague health and wellness first.

We work extremely hard, but we are empowered and trusted to get our work done in a time and way that suits us personally.’

My manager focuses on the outcome – not the hours I work! We have clear goals and these are regularly talked about and assessed every 6 months. And of course, the reality is that when you empower and trust people, they give you more. Equally, it is our responsibility as a colleague to build that trust and not take advantage of the situation. 

At Pfizer we are highly energised by our purpose – delivering breakthroughs that change patients’ lives, and if you have a strong sense of purpose, this drives personal accountability. I think we have already made that move beyond hybrid working to a model whereby people can be trusted to work in a way that suits their individual lifestyles. And it will be very difficult to turn back the clock.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone is different – with different needs and preferences. So flexibility is vital and I believe that colleagues will want a range of options in the future and they will choose to work for the organisations who offer it. We also need to understand the needs and preferences of the next generation of colleagues. Young talent will expect us to offer flexibility in my view, but this includes and goes far beyond the option to work from home – they want to travel, have innovative space to work in and the latest technology in their hands to enable flexibility. One of my daughters recently graduated and I am seeing first hand the decisions her friends are making – and these factors are top of mind!

Our whitepaper, Poly-working: The Evolution of Hybrid Working, offers an in-depth insight into how leaders are responding to the demand for more work flexibility and we provide the five interlinking areas that organisations must focus on to keep up with the curve. 

You can read it here