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Eli Lilly: Getting employees back in the office is complicated and will take time

Look for it to be done in phases
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Posted at 7:45 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 00:45:04-04

INDIANAPOLIS — For a large international company such as Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company, getting back to normal is complicated and time-consuming.

Lilly Corporate Communications Director J. Scott MacGregor said the pharmaceutical giant will exercise caution in bringing employees back to its facilities and will do it in phases. "Depending on location, the status of the pandemic in a particular area, and the status of local social distancing and quarantine orders, we may move at a different speed," said MacGregor. "We have seven criteria that must be met before we begin the process of bringing those employees who are currently working from home back to our campuses. Those criteria include data that demonstrate that the local environment is under control and that our workplaces have practices in place to prevent the spread of the disease."

There have been no furloughs or layoffs at Lilly during the pandemic. Office employees have worked from home. In Indianapolis, workers in essential manufacturing jobs and the COVID-19 testing facility have kept operations going since the start of the pandemic.

MacGregor said it could be "several months" before large numbers of employees return to corporate headquarters. "This is a dynamic situation, so we must be flexible," he said. "If local environmental factors worsen, it is possible we could return to working remotely in order to keep our employees safe and preserve our ability to reliably supply medicines."

"One of the reasons we moved so quickly to working from home was to protect people who need to be in our facilities to make and supply medicines, so we can practice proper social distancing and reduce the risk of employees spreading the virus," said MacGregor.

The company has continued to pay all of its employees, even if they were instructed not to come to work. "We have also partnered with our contractors to maintain pay continuity for service workers, (such as food service, cleaning and security) who are most vulnerable to losing pay as we reduced our on-site workforce," said MacGregor.