11/2/2020

Tips for Making Your Virtual Workplace More Inclusive

Around 43% of the American workforce works from home at least some of the time, says Gallup data, with predictions that between 25% and 30% of the workforce will be working remotely several days a week by the end of 2021. As companies adapt to this new mode of working and begin to understand the advantages and cost effectiveness of this model, they may decide to stick to a virtual workforce even in the era of new normality. If so, diversity, equality, and inclusivity are aims that should be pursued. As found in a recent Glassdoor survey, a diverse workplace is one of the main factors potential employees take into account when looking for employment.

Creating a Framework of the Company’s Values

It is important for companies to create a framework through which they can let existing and new employees know that diversity, equality, and inclusivity are core values of the company. Policy should be written down and contain precise stipulations that give workers an idea of the practical workings of your policy. For instance, you could stipulate that during Zoom or Skype meetings, attendees will all be able to voice their concerns and provide suggestions. It can also include feedback meetings between management and workers. Boring tasks like taking down minutes of the meeting during a video conference should be shared between everyone attending, perhaps on a turn-taking basis.

Hire a Truly Diverse Team

To ensure your diversity and inclusivity policy isn’t seen as mere ‘tokenism’, try to take advantage of the limitless nature of the virtual workplace by hiring a truly diverse team. A McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management had a 35% higher chance of financial success. Moreover, those in the top quartile for gender diversity had a 15% greater likelihood of higher returns. A company that has minority employees doesn’t have to advertise this fact; the innate richness and diversity of its team will attract more employees keen to form part of this corporate culture.

Hiring Neurodivergent Individuals

A diverse virtual workplace is also one that can choose to tap into the talent of people who are ‘neurodivergent’ - these include people with autism or ADHD. People who have anxiety and depression can thrive in a remote working environment. The current health situation has increased stress levels for workers the world over and even if your team is working remotely, some members could have developed conditions like anxiety and depression over the past few months. If so, it is important to let them know that they are acknowledged. The company should also look for ways to foster better mental health - employees can be invited, for instance, to take part in online yoga or meditation classes. 

The value of hiring a diverse and inclusive team is vast, with companies that do so enjoying greater financial success. Managing a diverse remote team involves many steps - including creating the right framework and stipulating ways in which employees can make others feel more accepted and included. Diversity should be promoted at the hiring stage, as there is a vast amount of talent your company can tap into to take it to new heights of success. During video conferences, make sure that everyone has enough time to speak. Be particularly vigilant of the more introverted members of your team, whose voice can sometimes be drowned out by more extroverted employees. Finally, look for ways to foster better mental health, being sensitive to the effects that current times can have on your team’s wellbeing.

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