Ways to Reinforce Inclusion in Remote Workforces
Whether working from home or as part of a mobile workforce, remote workers are becoming more commonplace and the changes to our working patterns during the pandemic have contributed to the growth in remote workforces. Remote working offers many benefits from reduced costs for both employees not having travel expenses and employers reducing office costs as well as productivity efficiencies. But one area many employers may not have considered is how remote working can help drive their diversity and inclusion initiatives. A wider more diverse talent pool Removing the necessity of travelling to and working from a fixed physical location helps overcome the barriers of attracting diverse talent. Not being confined by geographical location or physical ability means employers can widen their net when searching for candidates. Those who have a remote workforce can advertise their jobs across the UK or even around the world to help them attract the best talent and also a more diverse talent. Another consideration is workplace accessibility for those living with a physical disability, many office buildings, in particular older ones, may not be designed to cater for varying physical abilities. But if employees are able to work from home, in an environment that already caters for their physical needs the talent available to companies increases. Reinforcing inclusion An inclusive workforce doesn’t happen overnight, it requires a sustained drive and effort to ensure employees feel supported and a valued part of the company and are encouraged to make meaningful contributions. Add a remote workforce into the mix and this can become a more daunting challenge, but it needn’t be. The shift in working from home in some ways has made us all more connected, but that does not guarantee greater inclusion at work and employers must lead by example to help drive inclusion across the workplace. This can be achieved by: Demonstrating vulnerability and empathy - team members should feel comfortable being open and vulnerable. They should feel they can share their feeling and should also support others to do the same. Asking about employees needs and respond with tailored actions - employees should be asked what they need to help overcome any challenges they are facing and employers should acknowledge and respond with tailored actions. Making space for diverse perspectives - diverse perspectives should be embraced and celebrated to enhance performance. Contributions at team meetings should be encouraged and facilitated. Allowing time for remote team building - if in-person interactions aren’t possible then employers should plan for remote ones. Employers should consider virtual interactions such as games, challenges or quizzes that require team working and ensure unfamiliar team members work together to help them feel a greater part of the organisation.
What is the new Future of Work?
2020 has been an unprecedented year, both our personal and professional lives have been disrupted and altered in ways we couldn’t have predicted at the start of the year. As 2020 draws to a close, we are turning our attention to 2021 and beyond to consider what the new future of work looks like. Increase in working from home The shift to working from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic was intended to be temporary, and for many, it will be but for some even after the vaccine has rolled out homeworking will be a part of their everyday lives. It is anticipated that post-COVID-19 many organisations will continue to offer some form of home working to their employees, whether they work completely from home or for a few days a week. Removing the daily commute saw an increase in productivity and the number of hours worked for many businesses across the UK. According to ONS in their April report, around 30.3% of those working remotely worked more hours than usual. Remote working can work to improve a good balance between work and life, not to mention reduced travel costs for employees and for companies that go fully remote lower operational costs. More flexible working patterns Going beyond working from home it is expected that more flexible working hours for everyone will become normal in the new future of work. Offering flexibility with the times that someone is expected to work, rather than sticking to the business norm of Monday to Friday 9-5, can further help improve work/life balance and improve the satisfaction and wellbeing of employees. As flexible working becomes more commonplace, the expectations for all employers to offer this will grow and while this change won’t happen overnight it is anticipated that it will happen in the coming years. Flexible working can also help close the gender equality gap and open up more opportunities for working parents as childcare becomes easier to manage when flexible working is an option. More mobile workers The traditional office environment as we currently know it may become a thing of the past in the coming years, as more companies and employees begin to operate and work remotely. But remote working in a post-COVID world will not just mean working from home. It could include hot desking or employees working from their favourite hotspots such as coffee shops and cafes. Technological advancements and improved collaboration from remote teams mean that working together in a physical office is no longer the only way to do things and an increasingly mobile workforce will be part of the new future of work.