5 Practices for an Inclusive Hybrid Workplace

Adapted from: HBR| 5 Practices to Make Your Hybrid Workplace Inclusive| Grace Lordan, Teresa Almeida, and Lindsay Kohler |

A hybrid workplace paradigm combines in-office and remote work to provide employees with flexibility and support. Employees in a hybrid workplace often have more autonomy and a better work-life balance and are therefore more engaged—building a more productive, healthy, and stable workforce that benefits employers. When developing hybrid policies and navigating new ways of working, there are five practical dimensions of inclusion to consider according to the authors:

  1. Recruitment and Remote Onboarding

Many HR recruiters believe they will continue to virtually interview graduates in the near future. Benefits of this approach include reduced entry costs for lower socioeconomic background graduates, who are unable to transfer for a job; and it also allows for an assessment of current onboarding procedures, taking into consideration the diverse experiences, backgrounds, and expectations of the new team members bring. Companies can use what they have learned during the pandemic about how people learn better/ receive information while at home.

Companies may produce a library of short movies that cover all aspects of onboarding, including how to set up technology and manage workflows. The business can then gather new hires for a question-and-answer session on the videos in small groups of five or fewer people. The video library and private lecture work together to create a consistent onboarding experience that caters to individual needs. Having the correct setup and training to execute your job is a vital aspect of being successful at work. Being technically adept is becoming increasingly valuable in remote work, and getting up and running when working from home has become a necessary ability. Setting up a makeshift home office did not come readily to individuals who were less tech-savvy.

Lordan et al also suggest companies might use a buddy system to link new employees with someone who has more experience. This individual becomes the go-to person for daily informal queries and corporate information, ensuring that remote employees don’t miss out on the informal learning that occurs in the office.

  1. Teamwork

Physical separation can lead to psychological separation. When you share a physical place, it’s much easier to check in on your co-workers. Exchanges with co-workers outside of one’s immediate working area or department have a favourable impact on organisational functioning and can influence effective performance. More than communication methods like email and instant messaging, these informal communications add to an organization’s culture and functionality.

Opening the virtual office door is one option. Make use of the status bar when working remotely. A green status circle grants authority to bridge the gap. Virtual reality and virtual conference rooms can also be used by businesses to generate a sense of belonging and sharing. Virtual meeting technology is growing in popularity, providing businesses with more options on how to bring these rooms to life.

  1. Conflict Resolution

Another effect of hybrid working on inclusion is the possibility of silent bullying. While remote employment has the advantage of making it easier to avoid office bully, it also has the disadvantage of increasing interpersonal friction. It may be more difficult for someone who already feels marginalised to speak up. The quality of a team’s work suffers when those viewpoints are lost, especially on high-complexity or creative projects where alternatives and discussion are critical.

To create an environment where all voices are heard, you’ll need to increase psychological safety so that your employees feel comfortable speaking up when there’s a problem. Showing what healthy conflict looks like is one way to do this. Employees must feel comfortable having difficult conversations in a constructive and judgment-free environment. This demonstrates that team members might have opposing ideas and that this is fine.

  1. Collaboration

Employees are also more inclined to create in-groups. Exclusion from important conversations and an unwillingness to give knowledge are unfortunate side effects. These organisations can even decide who gets assigned to important projects or accounts. “Team members who return to the office while others work from home may establish a “group inside a group,” in which individuals working from home are less involved in resolving team conflicts and knowledge sharing, and are perceived as less helpful than colleagues in the office.”

In social networks, ties are the relationships between different people, and their strength depends on the amount of time, intensity, and proximity between people. One effective way to break up these ‘in-groups’ is to ensure information flows smoothly and diffusely through an organisation by identifying “weak ties.” Strong relationships, such as those between co-workers on the same team, are vital for fostering intra-team cohesion and are part of dense networks. Weak relationships, such as acquaintances or casual contacts, should not be disregarded, since they play an important role in disseminating knowledge across organisations.

  1. Promotions

According to HBR, “compensation, promotions, and opportunities are determined by one’s assumptions about productivity and performance. We may observe inexplicable disparities between individuals who work remotely and those who have onsite face time with the boss in a post-pandemic society.”

Productivity — and thus performance — fluctuates greatly depending on one’s surroundings. You’re more creative in the neighbourhood coffee shop, for example. In a hybrid workplace, those with money and privilege are more likely to have a dedicated home office, whereas those in shared apartments are more likely to work from a less-than-ideal location. Productivity is projected to fall as the number of individuals working together in a room increases and the square footage per person declines. Another issue arises as a result of this: the competition for Wi-Fi bandwidth. In an internal Microsoft survey, 59 percent of employees said they had to use their phone as a hotspot to avoid connectivity issues. The presence of children in the workplace has an impact on productivity.

“Monitoring who gets what and why — and making sure people are aware of it — is one method to keep an eye on the impact of shifting incentive mechanisms. PAY ATTENTION.

Be conscious of the biases and constraints that hybrid work can create or intensify as you develop your company’s hybrid work strategies and procedures. Creating an inclusive organisation requires designing with these practical characteristics of inclusion in mind. We can assist you if you need help with any of these practices.

 

 

 

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Cliff Chalon

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