Two workplace trends have dominated the past couple of years: hybrid work and DEI. While companies continue to figure out the best game plan for both, it’s important for them to strategize how to keep the hybrid workplace inclusive. It’s not just about the office anymore these days! Before we get into the strategies, we want to look at how hybrid work has been beneficial so far.
Hybrid work has actually supported DEI efforts
The door to more diverse talent has been opened! Much of the world remains segregated, meaning not every race or ethnicity can be found in every area. Remote works provides the opportunity to recruit top talent globally rather than limiting to one area. It also opens the door for employees with disabilities. Physical accessibility is no longer an issue for people working from home.
Survey says…hybrid work just works. One Future Forum study found that Black employees reported less stress when working from home. In addition, Great Place To Work’s analysis revealed employees with disabilities working from home experienced improved health, productivity, and enjoyment at work.
How to keep the hybrid workplace inclusive
1. Stay “flexible” with your flexibility
Flexibility should be just that: flexible. It shouldn’t be rigid as different employees may need different options. For example, a policy such as “work-from-home Wednesday’s” will likely leave some workers out.
2. Offer various tools
Remote work comes with obstacles. Be intentional when designing an online office space, just as you would for an in-person space. New tech tools can be helpful but might not work for everyone so be prepared to bring in multiple solutions. Consider engaging all your hybrid employees with an online recognition tool!
3. Be open to feedback
Listen to feedback from all individuals across all teams! You may want to select someone from each department as a point person for remote tools. Make sure this self-managed team is diverse and representative of all employees. Once trained on the tools, they can offer input and act as a liaison for tips, questions, and concerns.
4. Train your managers
Managing people in a hybrid setting can be a bit complex. Train your managers on each of these:
Take the time to understand why employees may want specific hours or locations to work from. Working from home on Fridays might let them visit their place of worship for prayer. Or working afternoons might allow the time they need in the mornings for physical therapy. Many reasons are valid!
Frequently communicate with your hybrid workers. This will help maintain a positive manager-employee relationship and keep them in the loop with what’s going on in the company. Working remotely can feel lonely sometimes. Communicating often will foster a sense of belonging and connection!
Find the right balance between autonomy and support. Employees should feel like they can make decisions on their own and confidently work without constant surveillance. At the same time, they should be comfortable asking managers for help when needed.
5. Take note of who is (and isn’t) being promoted
Be aware of distance bias when making decisions on promotions. Employees who are physically closest to the decision-maker tend to win new opportunities. Less visible employees tend to be overlooked and promoted less. Ensure projects are given out based on performance rather than visibility.
6. Implement employee resource groups
Employee Resource Groups (or ERGs for short) bring employees with a shared characteristic together. Create an ERG for a minority group or for people with physical disabilities. Don’t forget the invisible characteristics such as learning disabilities, anxiety, OCD, and many more. ERGs provide support, offer a safe space, and ultimately increase inclusivity.
Efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion will certainly stick around beyond just this year. And it seems likely that hybrid work will remain prevalent too, even after the pandemic ends. Utilize these strategies to create an inclusive hybrid workplace that helps all your employees thrive!