Thanks to the pandemic and worldwide economic shutdowns, working from home has become commonplace. Now, researchers anticipate 22% of Americans will work remotely by 2025.
You might expect a smooth transition, especially after all the progress companies have made to adjust to remote work and the technological advantages that businesses like tech startups already enjoy. However, many companies are struggling to maintain an inclusive culture in the work-from-home era. Ultimately, this lack of diversity and cultural awareness can create toxic environments where some employees don’t feel included — even in a remote setting.
Therefore, it’s crucial that employers, human resource professionals and their remote teams prioritize inclusivity and actively work to sustain a diverse, positive culture. Tech, engineering and similar industries have plenty of opportunities for growth.
1. Accommodate Parents
Last year, 88.5% of families with children had at least one working parent, a 2.9% decrease from 2019. This dip likely reflects pandemic-related job losses and a widespread lack of child care, both of which still affect working parents today.
To meet their needs and create a more inclusive environment for parents, remote companies could raise salaries or offer stipends to cover child care costs. This benefit would retain and attract employees who otherwise can’t afford to keep a job and raise kids, too. Employers may also provide free daycare or offer a short paid leave to families who recently ran out of options and must find an alternative before returning to work.
2. Share Tools and Resources
Nearly 8% of the U.S. population — or 42 million people — don’t have the ability to purchase broadband internet. Yet, as more companies and startups go remote, Americans are experiencing more pressure to buy their own laptops, keyboards, software, Wi-Fi, microphones and other necessary equipment for virtual employment.
Companies that value inclusivity will recognize this disparity and take steps to remedy it. For instance, tech companies might offer to pay for internet-related expenses like hotspots or Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, engineering startups can create team passwords for software programs so everyone has access to the same tools and resources, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
3. Listen With Empathy
Connecting online is much more difficult than doing so in person. However, creating opportunities for community and reciprocity is crucial to sustaining an inclusive culture. That’s because 30% of employees don’t feel a sense of inclusion, regardless of how diverse their organization is.
Therefore, employers must prioritize one-on-one meetings and frequent check-ins to better understand how their team members perceive and experience company culture. Do they feel valued and included? Listen with empathy and encourage open and honest dialogue to root out discrimination and create a more inclusive remote workplace.
4. Create Structured Team Building
Just because an industry is well-suited for remote work doesn’t mean they’re better at making employees feel connected and included in a virtual environment. Take IT, for example. In April, employers posted more than 365,000 job openings for IT workers. Meanwhile, roughly one-third of industry professionals plan to leave their current jobs within the next few months.
As employers struggle to secure this talent, creating structured team building may be a powerful persuader in convincing workers to stay. Stimulate social interaction and strengthen connections by hosting virtual events, social gatherings, and ongoing conversations about diversity and inclusion. Better yet, ask team members to volunteer to organize such events and rotate the responsibility to encourage engagement.
The Bottom Line
Investing time and money in maintaining an inclusive and diverse culture may seem like a big sacrifice, especially during a recession. However, doing so will create a more equitable work environment, boost employee retention and attract more talent that will further contribute to a positive culture. You’ll also enjoy higher revenue, customer satisfaction and success over the competition, which are just icing on the cake.
About the Author:
April Miller is a staff writer at ReHack Magazine with a passion for learning, the latest gadgets and all things technology. When she’s not writing about topics like cybersecurity and big data, you’ll find her curled up with a good book or exploring her local hiking trail.