We know that diverse and inclusive workplaces transform company culture and increase productivity and teamwork, ultimately driving the success of a business. But how we work has changed significantly in the past couple of years, due to limited travel and mixed work patterns, so finding ways to maintain an inclusive workplace is key.
This year, the proportion of those working from home exclusively has dropped, as the number of workers both working from home and at their usual place of work has been growing. In February 2022, around 78% of home and hybrid workers reported improved work-life balance, with fewer distractions and improved overall wellbeing (Office for National Statistics). However, many have highlighted the risks to diversity, equity and inclusion if managers get the evolving hybrid workplace wrong. Many hybrid workers experience a lack of social connection and collaboration, with this variability being exacerbated for certain traditionally underrepresented groups. Read more here for everything you need to know about hybrid working.
With the right resources and tools, your hybrid working environment can enhance your organisation’s ability to focus on work, look after its people and achieve better results. We share some tips on how companies can make a hybrid working environment a more inclusive and accessible place to be.
Technology and digital business operations have enabled people to work from anywhere, providing new opportunities and attracting a wider and therefore more diverse talent pool. With increasing investment in workplace technology, hybrid workers can juggle work with caring responsibilities or a mental health condition and build a better work-life balance. With more and more people working from home, companies have been spending more of their resources on building better collaborative work tools and applications.
High-speed internet, video conferencing software and virtual collaboration platforms have allowed companies to engage with their employees in new and exciting ways. Currently, Zoom and other video call providers are utilizing AI-enabled noise suppression to prevent background noise from interfering and disrupting meetings. For the future of work, Google is currently developing a 3D video chat booth that will eventually replace one-to-one 2D video conference calls. It will extend virtual meetings in a way for you to be with someone as if you were sitting right in front of them. This is one innovative way technology can help strengthen connections for remote workers, all from the comfort of your home.
Another key point to highlight is how hybrid working encourages personal autonomy. Both employees and companies can benefit from this hybrid work model as technology allows greater freedom in the workday and supports a company’s efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Companies that give employees the option to work from home several days a week can help those who might not be able to afford higher rents around offices in the city or those with disabilities who might struggle to commute to the office daily. This autonomy supports employees’ mental health, builds their resilience and helps them avoid burnout. This type of workplace takes everyone’s psychological safety into consideration.
In addition, employees should be aware of their own company’s expectations when it comes to communicating during work hours, as this will provide a solid framework for keeping things running smoothly. Companies need to ensure that every employee is treated equally from the very start. Showing that you trust them and giving them varied working options means that your team members are less likely to experience poor mental health as a result of unhealthy levels of stress. In this way, companies can focus on building equity, diversity and inclusion within the business to help them continue to thrive.
Working from the inside out is an invaluable investment for both your team and clients. At DeVono, all managers and leaders must partake in training to ensure they are entirely up to date and can ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the core of any decisions made. Offering training for team leaders will reduce bias in the recruiting process and foster an inclusive environment. Although more companies now have diversity and inclusion policies in place, turning them into a reality is an ongoing challenge. Data is also playing a growing role in helping employers assess how diverse their workforces are, and where diversity and inclusion initiatives can better support staff and their hybrid working styles.
With various home setups and work schedules, giving team leaders permission to organise their teams in ways that work for them is the best way to cater to everybody’s needs. Including and training managers to help manage hybrid teams will offer local-level, rather than one-size-fits-all, solutions. Getting regular feedback from your employees will help you determine long-term trends and deal with any short-term change in circumstances, like an injury, in a supportive way. This way, your company can be better prepared for making suitable accommodations for hybrid workers and any issues they may face. It’s important to understand that different groups will face different challenges, and all should be considered. Harnessing dialogue and partnership throughout these changes will positively affect the outcome for all employees and businesses.
Hybrid working can make companies more inclusive if it is aligned with your company values and objectives. A team of people with different abilities should be given standard procedures as well as additional planning, especially for those with disabilities. Ensuring they have easy access to hybrid meetings, assistive technologies and resources will allow them to fully participate and be included, despite any of the restrictions hybrid working may bring.