Over the past several months, our global community has been reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Businesses around the world have been forced to make adjustments to their services and operations, while individuals have been required to adapt to unpredictable and sometimes difficult situations in both their work and homelives.
Balancing work and home life while social distancing is tough. But working from home is “business as usual” for a large portion of our workforce. Close to 10,000 PRA teammates around the globe work entirely remotely.
PRA Health Sciences is proud of the collective resilience our employees have shown in overcoming these challenges as we continue to serve our patients and clients. Our team of professionals continues to make meaningful impacts on clinical research despite the uncertainty of the pandemic—all while maintaining a positive attitude and outlook.
Simultaneously balancing work and home responsibilities can be difficult. Social distancing measures and various, local stay-at-home ordinances have required employees to adjust to carrying out their job duties on top of performing tasks such as caring for and homeschooling their children. Many are also sharing a workspace for the first time with spouses and other family members who are also working remotely.
Working from home, however, is essentially “business as usual” for a large portion of PRA’s workforce. Close to 10,000 PRA teammates around the globe are regional employees that have worked entirely remotely throughout their tenure with PRA, well before the COVID-19 outbreak.
PRA has long been recognized for its remote-friendly culture. Due to the extensive travel commitments of a large number within our workforce—and that so much of our life-saving work doesn’t take place in a traditional office environment—hiring employees that work outside of the standard office is a necessity.
Over the past several years, PRA has been recognized for our remote offerings, being named to FlexJobs’ annual list of the Top 100 Companies with Remote Jobs in 2018 and 2019. The Top 100 list is based on an analysis of more than 54,000 companies in the FlexJobs database. To be considered for the recognition, a company must offer remote-friendly jobs, either allowing for candidates to telecommute entirely or for part of the time. PRA is consistently one of 100 companies that has the highest number of remote job openings. Not only did PRA make the top 25 in the most recent list, we made a significant jump in just one year, moving up from 41st to 25th.
PRA provides support and a number of IT resources and tools that make remote workplaces possible. This includes a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that connects users to PRA by creating a private network that adds a layer of encryption and security when using a public internet connection.
This state-of-the-art technology provides employees access to all of their files, data, software, programs, and applications. In addition, employees can collaborate with coworkers around the world eye-to-eye in real time, viewing the same information on computer screens and speaking to them as if they were sitting directly across from each other.
These capabilities are also beneficial for office-based workers when situations arise such as inclement weather, emergencies, or family and personal commitments that make it necessary for them to work from remote locations.
For example, an employee that works in PRA’s Raleigh, NC office had an opportunity earlier this year that would require him to be away from his desk. In fact, he would need to relocate nearly 2,000 miles away to Dallas, TX, for nine weeks.
That employee is Billy DeWalt, a senior IT project manager and an Army veteran. He previously shared the inspiring story of his partnership with his service dog, Quinn. Billy had the opportunity to take part in a customized training program with a group of other veterans through the non-profit Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF), whose mission is to empower those with disabilities to transform their lives through exercise and community. The intensive nine-week program pushes adaptive athletes physically through rigorous strength development and cardiovascular endurance workouts. As grueling as this is, it’s actually referred to as the “easy part” of the program. The athletes also receive additional training to support mental and emotional wellbeing to ensure they’re equipped with tools to help manage issues such as post-traumatic stress, as well as life’s everyday challenges and stressors.
Global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin sponsored Billy, which paid for him to attend the ATF program and covered his housing costs over the nine weeks. He was accepted to the program at the last minute, which was set to begin in January 2020 before local governments in the US began imposing stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. There was not a lot of time to work with his manager on the logistics of performing his work from Texas and with Human Resources to get the proper approval. A lot of time wasn’t needed—his manager was completely supportive, and he got the OK from PRA in one day.
This is a shining example of PRA’s people-first culture and full support for its employees. When the ATF program began, Billy and his IT team at PRA were working on a major project. PRA wholeheartedly extended the trust that he would do his job while taking part in the training program, and gave him the flexibility to do so. He stayed connected to his team, never missed a meeting, and did not experience a single problem or issue working remotely. In fact, being in the Central Time Zone in Texas meant when he’d wake up in the morning at his “normal” time, he actually had an extra hour, so he often felt he was able to accomplish even more work during the day.
Billy was equally as successful in the ATF program. Being in an all-veteran class forged a unique camaraderie among the athletes who had similar experiences during their military careers and may be experiencing some similar struggles today. There was also a little added “friendly competition” among the group, which was comprised of veterans from various branches of the armed services. But more than trying to outdo other participants or earn bragging rights, the primary goal was to support each other and help each other better themselves mentally and physically.
According to Billy, the ATF program was extremely beneficial in helping him with his mental wellbeing and working through anger issues and pain he had been keeping inside. It equipped him with tools to continue to maintain this emotional health going forward in his everyday life. He unquestionably made the most of it physically as well, earning a reputation for lifting extreme heavy weights and being awarded the ATF Grit Award.
PRA is proud of the reputation it has earned for its remote-friendly culture. No matter what the position, whether field or office-based, PRA strives to hire and retain only the very best. Providing the ability to work remotely when practical means PRA will attract the most experienced and qualified professionals in our industry who can offer their expertise, no matter where they live or where they are needed to perform their duties.
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