The hybrid workplace is on its way up. While some employees are eager to return to the office, others are adamant about remaining completely remote. As an executive, CEO, or leadership team member, you may wonder, “How do we bridge the gap between those who want to return to the office and those who want to remain remote?”
The solution is neither black nor white. There are several reasons why a hybrid work model could help you achieve your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals faster — while also adding new challenges. As a decision-maker, you must find a happy medium and consider the following questions.
Who on the team may face more significant challenges in a hybrid workplace and what can we do to help them?
How can we close access gaps and make sure that team members with different needs can work from home?
How can we stay connected and cohesive as a group while still letting people work in the way they prefer?
While the challenges of hybrid and remote models will be worked out in the coming years, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how to incorporate DEI into your new work model.
This article will look at how hybrid work can help eliminate workplace bias. We’ll also discuss the difficulties that may arise during your transition. Lastly, I’ll give you a few ideas that will help your company make a more welcoming place of work for all employees, not just those who work in the office.
The Benefits of Remote and Hybrid Work
Bias can be eliminated through remote and hybrid work.
One of the benefits of remote and hybrid work is that it provides employees with the flexibility and balance they require to succeed at work. Even though many groups still face discrimination and bias because of their race, gender, nationality, or ability, some people may feel safer and more welcome in the workplace if they switch to a hybrid or remote model.
Remote work can help to break down geographical barriers.
Remote work eliminates the geographical barriers that have long prevented international talent from entering companies open to a global workforce. This allows organisations to hire diverse workers from all over the world. Furthermore, employees have the freedom to choose where they want to work based on factors such as cost of living, cultural preferences, and proximity to friends and family.
Remote work can assist in closing the gender gap.
Gender has been an advantage or a disadvantage in the workplace for many people. However, remote work can provide better opportunities and a better work-life balance for women, mainly working mothers who need the flexibility to pursue their careers while also caring for their families.
Workers with disabilities may benefit from remote work.
The accessibility needs of people with disabilities are frequently overlooked or ignored. In terms of hiring, in-person work may cause some people with disabilities to pass up an opportunity for which they are qualified due to commuting and accessibility issues. Working remotely allows employees to work in an environment tailored to their specific requirements. This will enable people with disabilities to work in a more comfortable and accessible environment, which could be their own home.
Remote work can aid in the elimination of visual bias in the workplace.
The main advantage of remote work is that people can turn off their cameras during video calls, eliminating the visual bias that often exists in workplaces. Visual discrimination is making assumptions and decisions about someone based on how they look, like their skin colour, hairstyle, clothes, tattoos, etc. Some people may find it difficult to advance in their careers due to visual bias. Visual bias can be lessened by working from home, especially for people of different races, ethnicities, or genders.
Problems with remote and hybrid work
Inequity may be exacerbated by hybrid work.
On the contrary, remote and hybrid work may result in more significant gaps in an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. Remote workers may be out of sight and out of mind, whereas in-office workers may have more opportunities for connection and advancement.
Uneven access to leadership and the physical absence of workers can make the workplace feel less diverse, inclusive, and inherently unequal.
Inequitable access to leadership can result from hybrid work.
Those who work in the office may have more opportunities to interact with management in person than those who work remotely. This could lead to schisms between remote workers and leadership. It’s no secret that having face time with decision-makers is critical for career advancement. Employees who work in the office can more easily develop a rapport with management, whereas those who work remotely must be more creative to achieve the same result.
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Employees may prefer in-office workers.
As previously stated, those who appear in the office may have more career opportunities in the long run. In addition, they may have more opportunities to form in-person relationships, leading to advancement preferences that disadvantage remote workers.
Additionally, there is a proximity bias. Proximity bias refers to the tendency of people in positions of authority to show favouritism or preferential treatment to employees who are physically closest to them. Managers with this type of bias can make performance, promotion, and hiring decisions based on familiarity rather than objective criteria.
Some common examples are:
Despite objective performance metrics, onsite employees are valued more than remote employees.
For example, offering onsite employees the most exciting projects, assignments, or development opportunities.
for fear of technical issues or communication gaps, excluding remote employees from important meetings or not encouraging them to speak up on group calls.
Office spaces in hybrid workplaces may be less diverse.
Many people of colour, gender, or ability minorities may choose to remain distant. This may impact the diversity of the office’s in-person staff and delay some DEI goals and initiatives.
Many underrepresented groups continue to face microaggressions in the workplace. A person from an underrepresented group may choose not to return to the office for various reasons.
Employees who identify as non-binary can display pronouns on their Zoom screen more quickly than they can correct colleagues face-to-face. When a nursing mother takes a break to pump, she can avoid being asked how long she intends to breastfeed. While working from the comfort and safety of their own homes, people with disabilities can avoid unnecessary offers of assistance.
All of these scenarios, and others, may lead to some groups preferring remote work over in-person work, resulting in a less diverse office environment.
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