Newbury Park-based pharmaceuticals company Amgen will make working from home a permanent policy for much of its international workforce, including locally.
In a recent statement, the company said, “Most of our employees who are currently working remotely will continue to do so for a majority of their time, even after the pandemic ends…Our intent is to create a more flexible environment that intentionally combines the benefits of remote and in-person working.” “Our employees have proven to be resilient and adaptable over the last year,” the statement continued. “We are not initiating any changes to our Thousand Oaks campus at the time. Though some staff may come to campus less frequently, Amgen will remain engaged and involved in the communities in which we live and work.” Amgen, which is based at a 109,000-square-foot site at 1100 Rancho Conejo Blvd. and employs 5,000 people in Ventura County, based its decision on an internal survey that found 80 percent of the local workforce wanted to continue to work from home.
There is also the revelation during a recent call with analysts that the biotech giant will lower operating expenses and preserve its profit margin after a pandemic period that saw a decline in revenue. Amgen’s earnings for the first quarter this year were down 4 percent from a year earlier.
In a statement, Amgen Chief Executive Robert Bradway chalked up the drop to the general decline of people visiting their doctors during the pandemic year and, by extension, fewer pills being prescribed.
“While our business continued to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the first two months of the quarter, we are encouraged by strong volume trends in many of our new products,” Bradway said.
The work-from-home policy will include the bulk of its 24,000 collective employees globally.
A high-ranking Amgen employee abroad echoed the sentiment. In an online conversation, Jessica Simpson, resources director of Amgen Singapore Manufacturing, told Human Resources Online.net, “The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed Amgen to transcend boundaries and experiment with new ways of working while ensuring the health, safety and the well-being of our staff remain top priority.”However, she also noted that while technology lies at the heart of the future of work, “we are cognizant that some industries such as bio-manufacturing could never go fully remote – at least for now – because some processes would still require workers to collaborate in the same place or to conduct critical work in a specific location.” She anticipates companies such as hers increasingly adopting “a hybrid style of working that balances remote and non-remote work to support the individualized needs of our employees.” Despite the shift to remote work, there are still 2,000 employees who have been coming to its 19-acre campus at Amgen, which remains the largest employer in Thousand Oaks as well as the area’s biggest landholder: Amgen owns 45 properties that amounts to a taxable value of $1.4 billion.
In a local media report, area restaurants and other employers expressed their dismay of Amgen’s decision because of the expectation of a drop in foot-traffic.
“It’s definitely affected business,” Andrea Clark, a server with two decades of experience at Sidestreet Café on Lawrence Drive, told the Simi Valley Acorn. “At Sidestreet, you get to know people who come in all the time, but now we don’t see them.” As an anonymous Amgen employee told the newspaper, “The writing has been on the wall for a while. Multiple people I work with have already permanently moved out of state.” The employee added that it remains to be seen if remote work will be as sustainable as society returns to some semblance of normalcy post-virus.