The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an immense increase in the number of employees working from home. This has been a massive shift in the way that work is conducted on a day-to-day basis, and it has brought about a number of direct and indirect impacts, including real-world challenges regarding how to create a diverse, equality and inclusion environment when everyone is working in different locations.
When everyone is working remotely, it can be difficult to create a sense of diversity, Equality and inclusion. However, there are a few things that you can do to create an inclusive environment for your employees.
Considerations When Approaching WFH DE&I
Here are three effective tried & proven tips for creating a diverse, equality and inclusive work from home environment for organisations of all shapes and size:
1. Encourage employees to share their unique perspectives.
2. Make sure that everyone feels heard and valued.
3. Use technology to facilitate interactions and collaboration.
Foster an Open and Inclusive Workplace Culture
Creating an inclusive work from home environment doesn’t just mean finding ways to include different perspectives and collaborate with colleagues who are half a world away. It also means creating an open, supportive workplace culture between your remote employees.
One of the best ways to do this is to create custom virtual spaces that your employees can access, such as break rooms, cafeterias, and lounge areas. These areas serve as important gathering spaces where employees can socialise, collaborate, and have meaningful conversations that they might not have while they’re sitting at their desks working.
Your employees will also appreciate support and guidance from managers who lead by example. Make sure that you are being understanding and open-minded when it comes to dealing with challenges that remote work can present. If you are willing to be understanding and flexible, your employees will likely follow suit.
Creating DE&I ready WFH environments
Here are six examples of DE&I initiatives which have worked in both private enterprise and public sectors your organisation can implement immediately include:
1. Implement Equality and Inclusion Policies: The first step in creating a diverse, equality and inclusive work-from-home is implementing an Equality and Inclusion policy. These policies should clearly outline how policies, values and practices of the organisation will ensure equality, inclusion and respect for all employees, regardless of gender, age, race and sexual orientation.
2. Ensure Communication and Engagement: It is critical to ensure regular and consistent communication among remote employees. One way to do this is to set up dedicated communication channels and networks so employees can voice their opinions and exchange ideas. This will enable everyone to feel part of a team and create a stronger working environment.
3. Establish and Encourage Feedback Loop: Feedback is essential for an organisation to continuously assess its climate and to identify any areas of concern from employees and other stakeholders. Establish a feedback loop/culture that encourages employees to provide honest and constructive feedback on all aspects of their day-to-day activities and experiences. This can be done via surveys, interviews and focus groups.
4. Create and Develop an Inclusiveness Program: An effective diversity and inclusion program should focus on creating awareness and understanding of the whole organisation’s commitment to and support of an inclusive workplace. An inclusive workplace should include inclusive language, transparent processes, open doors and proactive and solution-oriented approaches. The program should also identify areas such as unconscious bias, implicit discrimination and proactive communication strategies.
5. Foster Support Networks: Encouraging support networks with peers and colleagues can be a great way to create a supportive and inclusive environment and help employees feel valued and connected. Take the time to organise activities outside of the work context such as virtual networking, happy hours and social events. This will allow employees to build relationships and talk openly and honestly, without the pressure of feeling obligated to make sales or answer calls at any particular moment.
6. Install Monitoring Software: Monitor software can automatically track employee performance, review activities and productivity. This allows management to identify potential issues with team dynamics or any gaps in employee performance and address them in a timely manner. With the monitoring software, management can get a better idea of how employees are performing and quickly identify any areas where unwanted behaviour might be occurring.
Encourage awareness of unconscious bias
It is important to encourage employees to be aware of their own unconscious bias as part of promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. Unconscious bias is defined as the attitudes or stereotypes that can influence our behaviour, decision-making and judgment without us being even aware of it. It can lead to unintentional discrimination, favouritism and exclusion, which can have a negative effect on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.
To help raise awareness, employers should provide employees with diversity and inclusion training to help them become more aware of their own bias and encourage them to challenge any stereotypes they might be prejudiced to. Employers can also support active discussion and dialogue in the workplace that are related to culture, race, gender, age and other diversity-related topics.
Promoting this open and inclusive culture will not only help create an environment where everyone is comfortable and respected, but it can also help foster a more collaborative and diverse workplace where everyone feels valued and appreciated.
Leverage virtual tools to foster collaboration
In today’s increasingly global and remote workforce, it is essential to leverage virtual tools to create and sustain a collaborative, equal and diverse work environment. Virtual tools such as web conferencing, video conferencing, project management and intranet systems can all be used to promote collaboration and communication among employees who might be spread across multiple locations.
These tools will ensure that everyone has access to the same information and resources regardless of their location, and that everyone is kept up-to-date on what is happening in the workplace and any project updates or objectives. In addition, these tools can help create an unbiased and equal working environment, as everyone is given the same level of access and has access to the same resources.
Using virtual tools to empower remote workers and ensure transparent communication is key for creating an inclusive work environment. By providing access to the same information and resources, employers can do their part in creating an equitable and diverse workplace.
Promote open communication and dialogue
Open communication and dialogue about diversity and inclusion must be encouraged in the workplace. To achieve this, employers must actively create a safe space for open conversation about these issues. This can be done through virtual meetings, company-wide surveys, or other strategies to ensure that diversity and inclusion is a priority within an organisation.
As open dialogue begins to take place, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone will have a different point of view and experience. By fostering an environment of understanding and acceptance, employees at all levels can work together to create a culture of inclusion.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the conversation doesn’t end after the initial dialogue takes place. Employers must continue to encourage open communication about diversity and inclusion and be willing to take the feedback and suggestions of employees seriously. Regular communication and dialogue will help to ensure that the workplace remains diverse and inclusive.
Online workshops, seminars and mentors
Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work from home environment requires virtual team-building activities, as well as education on these topics. Employers can provide access to online workshops, seminars, and mentors that focus on building the skills, knowledge, and relationships that are necessary to foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion.
Online workshops and seminars can help equip staff with the skills necessary to effectively understand diversity and inclusion. This can include topics such as empathy, bias awareness, cultural awareness, understanding barriers to inclusion and more.
Mentoring can also be a great way to promote inclusiveness in the workplace. Having access to mentors with diverse backgrounds and perspectives can help employers better understand the needs of their employees and build stronger relationships.
Providing staff with mentors not only provides a sense of support and community, but also serves as a form of education to help them become more aware of and proficient in the diverse and inclusive work environment.
Create opportunities for interaction
Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive remote work environment is not just about providing education and mentoring opportunities. It is also about creating opportunities for employees to interact with each other virtually.
This can include activities such as virtual team building, conversations around topics of interest, brainstorming activities and more.
Having a team of diverse backgrounds and perspectives can be a great asset to an organisation. It is important to create opportunities for these individuals to interact and build connections with each other. Doing so can help create an environment that is more open to new ideas and creative approaches to solving problems.
Organisations can also create virtual gathering spaces, such as online forums, chat rooms and webinars. This provides employees with an opportunity to connect and learn from each other in a safe, comfortable environment.
Doing this can help the team build meaningful connections that can improve collaboration and foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion.