With the popularity of hybrid work, permanent work-from-home arrangements seem to be losing support.
Only 3% of employers in a Fortune 500 CEO Survey said four or more days a week of remote work is optimal for their company. In fact, 39% say it’s best if employees are in the office at least four days a week.
But the medical sales industry can’t blindly follow what Fortune 500 CEOs recommend. Think of it this way: most people brought their office work home during the pandemic lockdowns. But medical sales reps brought home their work from the field.
The office existed before the pandemic as a critical home base for paperwork, online research, and collaboration. A rep’s role was already flexible, as they spent many of their hours on the road or face-to-face with customers.
Eliminating the office spaces is a big step, especially when the rest of the workforce prefers the hybrid model. But, given the nature of medical sales, it could be the right move.
Here are the conditions in which a permanent work-from-home arrangement would be a great fit for your medical sales team:
Strong teamwork is not dependent on an office
According to Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends, 39% of respondents agree that digital collaboration platforms are a top factor in making remote work sustainable. Additionally, 36% say allowing personal choice in how work gets done is at the top of the list.
And, likely, your team has already mastered both of those factors. Ask yourself:
Where does the team communicate?
Since medical sales reps spend so much of the day on the road, teams relied on those digital collaboration platforms even before the pandemic. So it’s habitual for the team to connect in a digital space. Thus, removing the office would not eliminate their primary outlet for interaction and culture-building.
How frequently is everyone in the office?
Reps are comfortable with having a personal choice in how they complete work. They’ve managed their schedules, arranged sales calls, and determined when it’s necessary to sit at a desk. They’re practically acting like a remote sales team already! However, with that independence, you must consider if multiple people are in the office often enough to warrant the cost of the office space.
Is it possible to provide coverage in permanent work-from-home conditions?
Given the number of vacation requests you get, it’s evident that willingness to provide coverage is vital to teamwork. Thinking through the steps reps take to ensure their co-workers can cover for them, consider if any require an office space. If all communications can occur over video and representatives can exchange documents digitally, it won’t be an issue.
Permanent work-from-home fits customers’ preferences
Neither sales reps nor customers were a fan of remote sales pitch presentations.
In a study from 2020, the RAIN Group found that buyers were unsatisfied with sellers’ virtual skills. Only 26% of buyers said sellers were adept at leading them through their needs. And just 16% said buyers were effective at making an ROI case. Even more problematic, just 26% believed sellers were competent listeners.
Moreover, an overwhelming 91% of sellers said gaining a buyer’s attention and keeping them engaged was very challenging virtually. Also, 88% added that developing relationships with buyers was very difficult.
Given this data, it is clear that face-to-face sales is significantly more effective than virtual sales. So remember that a permanent work-from-home situation does not imply that reps would be running all their sales operations from home.
Even without an office, medical sales reps can get out in the field to meet and engage customers. All around, this arrangement would strike the perfect balance of saving money, meeting the team’s needs, and doing all that while keeping customers satisfied with the quality of sales.
If it makes customers anxious that there is no location to track down their representative if needed, that may be something to address. Otherwise, the office space or lack thereof should not affect the buyer experience.
Reps are successful working fully remote
Your medical sales team track record from the pandemic lockdowns is a great predictor of how they’ll fare without ever meeting up at an office again.
There are major challenges with remote work that could be a detriment in the long run if your company isn’t prepared to handle it.
Consider the following:
Were they productive?
If sales reps were struggling due to a lack of support, you have to be honest about it. According to a large study from Great Place to Work, most companies reported consistent or increased productivity levels when employees were remote. But if that wasn’t your team’s experience, you have to figure out why before getting rid of the office for good.
Were any responsibilities impossible to do from home?
If the answer to this is yes, you have to work with others to get creative. Putting reps into a situation where they struggle to complete their responsibilities will backfire. But if there is a sustainable alternative, don’t let that one thing be the deciding factor.
When they didn’t have an office to keep them grounded, did they become disengaged?
There is more to measuring the efficacy of working from home than productivity and responsibilities. Stopping by the office twice a week seems like a small consideration. For some, however, it can make or break their engagement with the company and its culture. So if that was an issue, you noticed during the pandemic, be careful before putting reps back into a similar situation.