3 Steps for Fostering a Diverse & Inclusive Remote Work Environment

3 Steps for Fostering a Diverse & Inclusive Remote Work Environment

Providing an inclusive and diverse work environment takes effort. Your organization may already have a detailed plan in place for fostering such an environment. But times have changed. And today’s workplace is embracing a remote working model. Chances are, your diversity and inclusion policies might need readjusting, since you too, have staff working remotely.

Forbes suggests the remote working movement can actually improve company diversity since more jobs are available to those who maybe weren’t able to navigate the office environment or reside outside of a company’s brick-and-mortar. Building on that diversity opportunity, companies can transition to create an even more inclusive working world than ever before. Today, we’ll offer three steps to help you fine-tune your efforts and promote a diverse and inclusive, remote working atmosphere.

It Starts with Policy & Initiative

Consider taking deliberate and transparent steps toward an openly inclusive and diverse working ecosystem. These first steps can always start with company policies and initiatives when it comes to rules of engagement, hiring practices, and employee training.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

The Society for Human Resource Management often suggests that using ERGs to drive change can be incredibly beneficial. Talented individuals can inspire growth and inclusivity in a company’s processes. These groups are essential for uncovering insights about how diverse your environment is now and can also be instrumental in incorporating improvements. These groups can also be a line of employee support and work with current HR leaders to facilitate growth and diversity.

Employee Development Practices

Companies that have clear growth and development opportunities tend to be inclusive and diverse. Always look for ways to enhance the employee experience by offering ongoing training and mentorship. Provide the tools individuals need to succeed and grow as individuals and as a team. Supporting these endeavors will foster an environment of value at the employee level, allowing them to feel as though they continue to contribute to the company objectives.

A Continuous Schedule of Re-Evaluation

As a company policy, leaders should dedicate time and effort to re-evaluating diversity and inclusion initiatives ongoing. What may be a viable solution today may not be effective tomorrow. And the pandemic has demonstrated just how quickly employee needs can change. In a remote working environment, for example, employees still need to feel connected to the team despite being physically distanced. And inclusion strategies may require revisions to meet those new demands.

Management Leading By Example

Once you have policies in place that publicly outline the company’s strategy for inclusion and diversity, it’s time to put those efforts to work. In today’s remote working environment, company leaders can lead by example and enforce these best practices. Demonstrating inclusive behaviors can also inspire other staff to do the same.

Empathy & Belonging

Even if the communication is virtual and meetings digital, managers should always be looking for ways to demonstrate empathy. In a traditional work setting, a supervisor might stop into a colleague’s office for a quick chat about the past weekend. In a remote setting, that in-person interaction isn’t possible. So leaders should look for new ways to engage in those more caring and social engagements online. Many managers dedicate time for one-on-one virtual calls to pulse-check employees about workload or potential concerns.

Participation Encouragement

It’s easy to feel isolated from work when you’re working from home. Inclusion is driven by participation. Managers should look for ways to keep those conversations going, whether via instant chats with the teams or via video conferencing. To open up those channels of communication, some managers suggest sharing about themselves as a way to get started. Those “open door” policies can easily transition to more digital channels. But it’s the leadership of the business that may need to demonstrate how available those resources really are to the remote teams.

Evolving Management Expectations

When employees are in the office, there are certain expectations and guidelines that are typically reasonable to assume. Dress codes and timeliness to the job are pretty basic standards. But in a remote working environment, those goalposts might need to be moved. Managers and company leaders can recognize the new dynamics and look for ways to realign expectations with today’s working reality. Dress codes may not matter as much in some roles, and when an employee logs on may not be as mission-critical either. Working with staff to come to better arrangements can lead to a more inclusive environment.

Team Recognition & Individual Accolades

The very definition of inclusion involves a feeling of psychological safety and trust. It’s a sense of belonging that drives productivity and engagement. And the best way to ensure your company embodies the most conducive environment for inclusion means leveraging accolades and recognition regularly.

Structured Team Building

Even in remote settings, your teams can continue to build relationships virtually. Consider hosting online conferences for team coffee meets or Friday afternoon happy hours. These times are for random discussion, laughter, and casual candor. Team building can also be in the form of digital games or contests. The rules have changed, and today’s workers, despite their physical distances, will have an even higher need for these types of team-building exercises to feel connected.

Rewards & Recognition Online

Don’t let being away from the office deter you from recognizing a job well done. When a member of the team performs well or solves a big problem, it’s worth the digital shout-out and recognition. Inclusion also means being able to connect with peer colleagues, as well as management. To incorporate an environment that welcomes accolades, some companies allow team bragging during key meetings or via scheduling chat software platforms. It’s in these ecosystems that anyone can promote the success or achievements of another, continuously building up the group in an inclusive way.

Creating Channels to Exchange Ideas

Remote working environments may mean the team is physically separated. But it will only feel far away if those colleagues don’t feel as though they can communicate ideas, concerns, or questions. Companies today should have more than one way to connect with a leader, and employees should know precisely which channels are available to them for communication. Human Resources leaders will need to be accessible for personnel matters. But other leaders should also be available for exchanges of ideas, company initiatives, and troubleshooting endeavors.

For more tips and ideas to develop a more robust diversity and inclusion platform, contact us! We can help your company explore a variety of benefits platforms that drive employee satisfaction without compromising your bottom line. Whether you need additional information on ICHRA options or just need better tools to offer staff who may rely on the Marketplace for health insurance, W3ll can help.

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