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Challenges of offshore team expansion in pharmaceutical industry

pharmaceutical industry

The post-pandemic era has taught the corporate world how to optimize resources while taking advantage of the remote working setup and the pharmaceutical industry is no behind. Major countries like the U.S., Canada, France, India, and others are successfully executing work-from-home policies even long after the COVID-19 period. 

Though there are some bitter pills on the way of managing the completely remote working setup, this has become the new norm adopted by almost every corporate employee. As Scott Taylor of Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux rightly quoted, “Once our team settled into the new norm of weekly Zoom calls… productivity and creative levels shot through the roof.” Something very similar happened in the pharmaceutical industry and it was nothing short of a miracle. 

Amidst all the challenges, the pharmaceutical industry even managed to carry out critical drug research, development, safety, and regulatory functions remotely. Now the real question is, for how long can an industry that involves production lines and highly sensitive data keep up with this wobbling remote working setup? We have made an honest attempt in our blog to have a thorough analysis of the challenges, find solutions for the loopholes in it, and explore new opportunities coming up for remote teams in the pharmaceutical industry.              

Why offshore team expansion is necessary in the pharmaceutical industry?

Transformations in the pharmaceutical industry have been a common phenomenon since its origin. In the 1990s, numerous new tools like DNA sequencing, genotyping, and high throughput automation powered through and disrupted the world of genetics. Similarly, there has been a revolution over the past decade in the research and development of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery. To testify to this fact, the GSK CEO, Emma Walmsley said, “I think there is a real opportunity for next gen technologies to improve the biggest challenge of the [pharmaceutical] sector, which is the productivity of R&D.” 

challenges of pharmaceutical industry

The 2022 State of AI report reveals that 18 new AI-enabled drugs are under clinical investigation currently and it is just the beginning of the new data-driven approach of drug discovery. These high-tech clinical methodologies combined with subject matter expertise can be tactfully handled by young medical professionals and researchers from across the globe. It is undeniably necessary for pharmaceutical companies to hire experts without any geographical constraints to assemble and expand such an expert team. 

Working in the pharmaceutical industry is quite different from other corporate employees. There are no 9-5 shifts or water cooler conversations in this industry. Employees are expected to extend their shifts and be available in case of any urgency due to the nature of the job. When people are already working extra hours and having a tedious day, why not give them the flexibility of working remotely? This would provide them the window to work in their comfort and spend more quality time with families. To state an example, the world-renowned pharma company Pfizer with 121990 employees and multiple offices across the USA has successfully adopted the remote work setup and is currently mass hiring talented candidates for remote work opportunities.  Thus, normalizing the building and expanding of remote teams will ultimately increase the dopamine (happy hormone) levels of pharmaceutical employees, hence increasing the productivity, quality of work, and creativity of each individual.  

Additionally, the pharmaceutical industry is growing at a phenomenal rate with new computational and AI tools coming into the picture. These tools are used to develop and analyze broad, high-dimensional datasets to speed up the research process flows and have more control over medicine. However, the required tools and techniques involved in these research processes are of exceptionally high maintenance and come at very expensive rates. 

In an industry with such scenarios, recruitment costs, maintenance of employees costs, maintenance of office spaces, and other operational costs should be the least of worries. Trusted reports show us some alarming stats where the total cost of invention and approval of a new medicine goes up to USD 2 billion approximately. All these challenges can be single-handedly addressed by hiring and expanding fully functional remote teams globally. 

Another added advantage that a remote team brings with it is diversity in culture and people within the teams. As rightly quoted by Shane Metcalfe of 15Five, “Remote work is this incredible invitation to get good at building inclusive cultures.” When the hired candidates in a team come from different backgrounds, each individual brings a unique set of cultures and perspectives into the team. This allows the team to think big while bringing in fresh ideas, enhancing the overall team performance and creativity. Going by this norm, another pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, headquartered in Denmark with 63,000 employees is strengthening their global research and data science teams with remote working professionals on a mass scale.                                   

Major challenges of the pharmaceutical industry in 2024 

Like every other good thing that does not come easy, building remote teams in the pharmaceutical industry also comes with its set of challenges. It has become even more difficult in recent years as the business market continues to grow more competitive with each passing day. Let’s get the pharmaceutical industry insights in detail and look into the factors causing hindrances for business owners in building remote teams globally. 

  1. Hunting for skilled resources: The pharmaceutical industry is struggling to deal with the talent crisis due to multiple reasons and skills shortage remains one of the major pharma challenges in 2024. The most prominent reason is the high attrition rate worldwide due to the resource management issues by organizations. Secondly, the pharmaceutical industry mostly needs highly educated professionals like scientists and researchers for their teams. 

The research and development process in the pharmaceutical industry is quite exhaustive and requires acute expertise in each and every hired professional.  As Merck CEO Ken Fraizer rightly said “The problem with R&D is it’s not always consistent. It’s not like engineering where you can incrementally innovate and make another version of the iPhone.”  So, in an industry where there is absolutely no window for slacked candidates, the talent hunt becomes even more daunting.   

Moreover, the demand for the number of qualified candidates is way higher than the available number in the job market. According to reports, more than 40% of employers are experiencing a workforce shortage in 2024. Thus, HR recruiters are trying to advance their talent-hunting techniques every day to cope with the extensive search of resumes across geographies. 

  1. Cost of remote team expansion: While expanding a team remotely, there are some inevitable expenses every pharmaceutical organization has to bear. Building a strong centralized network is a major one among them. Platforms like Microsoft Teams or Slack which are generally used for connectivity and communication purposes at an organizational level, cost a bomb due to their high security and quality of services. The other costs involve integrating high-end software deployment tools for easy remote operations, ensuring proper access to IT and infrastructure to each employee, and miscellaneous employee benefits in a remote work setup.
  2. Data security and integrity: In the pharmaceutical industry, almost every piece of data is considered to be highly sensitive and should be encrypted from public use. Protection of such crucial data should be of topmost priority at all times. However, employees tend to make more mistakes intentionally or unintentionally in a remote work setup losing confidential company data.According to a study, 60% of employees remain comparatively more distracted in a remote working environment resulting in huge data loss. Maintaining stringent security levels in each remote device is also a massively challenging task which can make the devices prone to malware, viruses, or hacking attempts.
  3. Compliance and legal challenges: Maintaining regulatory compliance among organizations in the pharmaceutical industry is yet another pitfall in an otherwise perfect plan of building remote teams. Different countries have their own legal standards and industry policies. Thus, business owners have to educate themselves constantly about the updated company laws and regulations where their remote teams are located. Keeping up with regular complex audits and inspections becomes excruciating and failing to do so may result in huge penalties and reputational damage for organizations.
  4. Technology infrastructure: The incorporation of IT in the pharmaceutical industry is a novice concept per se. As the renowned neurologist, Samuel Wilson once said, “One of the biggest challenges to medicine is the incorporation of information technology in our practices.” To add to it, maintaining a solid technology infrastructure for a remote team in the pharmaceutical industry can get even more complex at times.This means having a robust yet easy cloud infrastructure for the system. There are multiple options available for cloud infrastructure in the IT market, for instance, AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, etc. As a cloud infrastructure brings compact connectivity among all the remote team members, there are multiple factors associated with it that might be concerning for the remote team. As this is completely dependent on the Internet, there are chances of the system getting crashed leading to loss of saved data.Secondly, some cloud infrastructure may be difficult to understand for the employees initially. This will require an adequate amount of training sessions to thoroughly educate them. The complex cost structure is yet another hidden issue associated with cloud infrastructure.

How can the challenges of the pharmaceutical industry be addressed? 

pharmacy problems and solutions

To sustain itself as a firm-rooted pharmaceutical company in this competitive business market, present-day entrepreneurs must think differently. Merely addressing the challenges that come along the way is not enough to accelerate the growth trajectory of your business. You must also act smartly, and play with the newer models hitting the market to add those extra benefits to your remote team. 

Employer of Record (EOR) is one such model that is becoming increasingly popular among business owners. The flexibility and strong market grip of the model at a very optimized cost are what draw a huge chunk of entrepreneurs to it. 

Employer of Record (EOR) services dig deep into the talent market to analyze the backgrounds, experiences, skills, and perspectives of each candidate before hiring them for your remote team. EOR services also take care of the payroll, employee taxes, employee benefits, working hours for employees, leave management, etc. An EOR company takes all the burden of local employment laws off your shoulders. Be it complex local labor standards or intricate regulatory frameworks, EOR has got your back. 

EOR services also equip your employees with advanced technology and infrastructure to ensure consistent connectivity and easy access to essential digital tools. If you are an entrepreneur looking to expand your remote team internationally at an affordable price, you must have a thorough awareness of whether EOR is the most economical employment model or not.                


Expanding your remote team internationally in the pharmaceutical industry is a rewarding experience, provided you are aware of all the pharmacy problems and solutions, and measure your every step smartly. When the organization and your employees are thriving in the remote working system, it can do wonders for your business growth. 

Researchers and other medical professionals across the globe can come together to work as a single team, collaborating efficiently on virtual meetings saving time on the commute and breaking geographical barriers. This would help them concentrate more on creativity and innovation. The entire process flow of the pharma world can speed up and become leaner through remote team expansion.         

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Rumela Chakraborty

Rumela Chakraborty is a passionate content writer specialist of Remunance’s marketing team with a knack for crafting engaging and informative articles. With extensive experience in curating versatile content, she has honed her skills to produce high-quality, SEO-optimized content. Be it blog posts, PR articles, or social media content, she takes pleasure in infusing storytelling into her work and has a keen eye for detail. She has emerged as a subject matter expert in the PEO/EOR industry, transforming a wide array of concepts related to remote work, freelancing, outsourcing, payroll, and more into compelling narratives that resonate with the intended audience.

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