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Remote work may change your DEI strategy in these 3 ways

Working from home means it’s time to adjust your company’s diversity and equity approach.

Remote work may change your DEI strategy in these 3 ways
[Photo: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels]

There’s no doubt that there’s been a worldwide perspective shift since the start of the pandemic on how diversity, equity, and inclusion are viewed in workplaces. Being thrust into remote work broke down a lot of barriers, especially the idea of our personal and professional selves being separate. It also opened the door to individual and inclusive work preferences, including different work styles and flexible work schedules. These factors ushered in a wider acceptance of people as whole individuals and broadened the types of folks considered for roles.

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The benefits of inclusion in the workplace are plentiful, but the most basic principle is that the more diverse a company, the more well-rounded and engaging its ideas. Although always seeing eye to eye can be a recipe for amicable communication, it can stall your company’s progress and innovation. It can also alienate your customer base, who might not be able to see themselves in your mission or products.

But building a diverse and global team brings a richness to your company’s culture that’s otherwise unachievable. It permeates through everything your organization does and ultimately creates a more personable brand and experience for customers. So, here are three ways to foster more diversity and inclusivity in your organization by changing how work gets done.

Shift your focus to outcomes

Throughout the history of office work, it has been unanimously accepted that work must occur only during work hours and in a specific location. However, the idea of fixed hours in traditional offices is limiting. It makes us miss out on the success that comes with trusted, diverse teammates of varying abilities and backgrounds.

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Shifting our focus to outcomes instead of hours will be unconventional and will require mental conditioning to undo past thinking. Outcomes-focused work extracts the expectations of a given role from the ideas of “when” and “how” work should be done. Being explicit with the “what,” and then trusting your team to deliver, is empowered leadership. It frees your team members to find their way while leaving room for support if they get stuck.

Most people haven’t experienced the level of freedom possible in an outcomes-focused culture, so employees will have to trust their capabilities and decision-making skills as you’re easing up on the reins.

This transition to an asynchronous environment in which team members are trusted to work in the most suitable hours will undoubtedly have hiccups. But embracing those missteps as learning opportunities will lead to an empowered workforce that ultimately contributes more. With the space to think for themselves, they bring creativity that would otherwise get left on the table.

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Downgrade the influence of rigid schedules

Offices can be inaccessible for many reasons, especially through a diversity and inclusion lens. Commuting to a physical place, staying for eight hours, and sharing ineffective spaces with others who have different work styles is stressful (and impossible for some people). Attempting to manage the load on your mental health and nervous system that comes with this is brutal, especially when there’s rarely an actual need to work in a specific place.

Being more flexible allows for a broader talent pool, such as parents who can still fit in a full-time workload with different hours, as well as people in different time zones. Plus, early birds and night owls can crank out high-quality work at the hours their brains function best with no stress.

Building a safe environment for people to test hours that work better for their unique flow can be fun for your team. Everyone can agree to work whenever they want for a week. At the end of the week, they can share what worked and what didn’t, adjusting from there. Over time, each teammate will find what works best for them.

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One step in this shift is turning off any ability to see when people are online. Many tech tools show when someone’s working and when someone’s away, yet this only perpetuates the ineffective, micromanaging office culture of old-school workplaces.

Inclusive companies no longer limit themselves to hiring people who are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flexible schedules don’t diminish your employees’ work accountability, either. They champion workers as warriors of their own lives who juggle so many other important responsibilities.

Globalize your recruiting

Remote work and flexible hours open up employment for team members, such as, say, employees who are refugees, and those with disabilities, drastically reducing the barriers for people who otherwise would’ve had to exert considerable effort just to secure an interview.

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Provided the people you hire are passionate and engaged and have the skills and experience to perform the role, there should be no stopping even the smallest business from embracing a global team. So, advertise your company’s open roles on global job boards and see who applies. Your perfect match might be located in a faraway place!

True diversity is seeing humanity through a global lens. And it costs nothing to acknowledge, accommodate, and uplift our differences, including but not limited to neurodiversity, religion, culture, and many others.

Companies unwilling to evolve their workplaces will struggle to attract happy, passionate, and high-performing employees. In this collective awakening, people no longer work simply to get paid, but also for a transformative and expansive experience. They want to work with interesting people and do something that matters not only to them, but also to the world.

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Sarah Hawley is the CEO and founder of Growmotely, the world’s first end-to-end platform that facilitates conscious hiring of remote professionals and different nationalities into long-term remote jobs.

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