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Is there such a thing as a diverse remote workplace?

August 31, 2020

Is there such a thing as a diverse remote workplace?

Diversity in the workplace is a high ideal that is worth striving for. While many organizations focus on having diversity at the office, ensuring your remote workforce is diverse presents a different kind of challenge. 

As more organizations turn to remote working options in the face of COVID-19, diversity should still be a company goal. Just because your employees are not coming into the office every day doesn’t mean they don’t impact your business culture or performance. And research shows that diversity in your workplace is good for business

If your organization is moving to a more remote workplace style, there are some simple ways you can improve the diversity of your remote workplace

Advantages of remote working and diversity

While remote working can have its challenges with regards to diversity initiatives, it can also have significant advantages. 

One of these is for employees with disabilities. Remote work gives them more control over their work environment. They can reduce distractions that happen in an office climate, which can improve their productivity. Employees with disabilities can also forego the hurdles with transportation and a long commute to work. This can be a major issue for those who rely on specialized transportation services or third-party options like wheelchair-access buses, etc. 

A remote workplace also gives you access to top talent regardless of their geographical location. This can help you build a productive team with specific skills to move your projects forward. 

Challenges of remote diversity

Working as a remote team involves more than just allowing employees the freedom to work at home. Organizations will face new challenges managing remote teams, particularly to promote diversity among teams that are spread out. 

One of these challenges is missed opportunities. Some remote workers may miss out on top assignments because they keep irregular hours or have conflicting responsibilities such as caregiving for children. For example, parents may not be online during the day to nab the best assignments. This means that the organization won’t be able to benefit from diverse input. Rather, the assignments are completed by employees without children at home. 

Other issues you’ll face could be feelings of isolation or disconnectedness among employees or communication challenges. 

To solve these problems, managers need to be proactive about connecting with each remote team member. You’ll need a way to track who is getting assignments to ensure they are handed out fairly.  There should also be some level of social activities to create a sense of belonging among your remote workers. 

Overcoming diversity challenges in remote workplaces

There are several things that you can do to help your remote workplace overcome diversity challenges. Here are some of the ways you can encourage a more diverse remote workplace.

All leaders need to believe it is important. Additionally, if a company wants to achieve genuine diversity, its leadership should not only buy into the idea, the leadership itself should be composed of diverse individuals.

Understand the connection to business performance. Statistics show that having a diverse workforce can directly impact the bottom line. Moreover, it is important to have a clear understanding of what makes a workplace diverse

Be aware of isolation. Working from home can exacerbate the isolation and lack of visibility that your diverse employees feel. This means you’ll need to make extra efforts to ensure their ideas are heard. Perhaps having a good communication tracking system for managers can ensure that everyone stays in the loop. 

Diversity mentoring. Workplace mentoring programs is one of the best ways to promote understanding among employees. Connecting employees from different backgrounds can help cultivate cooperation, particularly in a remote workplace. 

Set SMART goals when it comes to diversity at your organization. Setting a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goal will give you something tangible to measure so your organization can see the benefits of diverse workplaces. 

Diversity goals should match organizational goals. Research has found that diversity brings a number of advantages to companies, including higher revenues. However, to fully achieve these benefits, you’ll need to ensure your diversity efforts are producing results. If you are able to connect your diversity goals to the business goals you have, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. 

Recruit top talent. With remote teams, your organization is not bound by location, which opens up the possibilities of hiring qualified candidates regardless of where they live. This will reduce what is called location bias, which means that only people who live within commuting distance of your workplace can work at your company. 

Consider candidates who add to the culture rather than fit in. To really embrace diversity in your workplace, you’ll want to hire talent that brings a different perspective. This may mean you’ll need to assess what perspectives might be missing from your current remote teams. Consider location, race or cultural backgrounds, genders and more. 

Develop activities that foster belonging. Remote work can be somewhat isolating. It can also be difficult for your remote team to gel with one another. You can help encourage a sense of belonging by holding some remote team activities. These can be get-to-know-you video calls or a way your team can share their interests outside of work. 

Remember that having diversity in your remote team can be an advantage for your organization. But, it is about more than just adding numbers to your workplace. With some planning and effort, you can create an environment that helps you build a strong diverse remote workplace. 

Let Together help you take your diversity efforts to the next level. Contact us today to build an inclusive future for tomorrow. 

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