10 tips for 'going hybrid' with diversity and inclusion in mind
(11th October 2021) - Guest blog: Terkel
As organizations consider moving to a hybrid workplace, what are some things they can do to ensure everyone can benefit, including those with neurological differences?
To help business leaders create a holistic plan for shifting to a hybrid office, we asked founders and business professionals this question for their best insights. From giving everyone a voice with an employee suggestions box to encouraging flexible working hours, there are several factors to keep in mind as you move to a hybrid work structure.
Here are 10 diversity and inclusion considerations for moving to a hybrid work model:
- Give everyone a voice with an employee suggestion box
- Train your entire team in new and existing tech
- Promote inclusive practices and less bias
- Be mindful and flexible
- Have one-on-one meetings
- Ask employees what they need
- Address underlying mindsets
- Provide inclusive training and development materials
- Commit to your team and culture
- Encourage flexible working hours
1. Give everyone a voice with an employee suggestion box
Our team consists of in-house, hybrid and remote members. Giving everyone a chance to speak during a virtual meeting can be challenging. But suggestion box apps, like Vetter, create a direct line of communication between employees, teams, and management across all time zones.
The digital suggestion box offers opportunities for all employees to provide their input at any time, despite where they live. And the anonymity of these apps also allows team members to feel more comfortable voicing any concerns they may have been hesitant to bring up in a virtual meeting.
Jared Pobre, Caldera + Lab
2. Train your entire team in new and existing tech
For a hybrid workplace to succeed, we must really lean on technology for support. However, if only portions of your team know how to use this technology, then this can create unfair advantages, as well as decrease overall productivity.
Be sure that each member of your team is properly trained on both new and existing tools and apps, and offer additional support whenever needed. This will also keep your team happily engaged.
Dylan Fox, AssemblyAI
3. Promote inclusive practices and less bias
The world is changing and organizations are embracing digital adoption, which is crucial to building more competent teams. Create a culture of equality with inclusivity in mind. There is a high possibility of achieving that, especially with the help of modern cross-functional video conference software. You can create an inclusive environment with more faces, voices, opinions, suggestions and ideas that make a hybrid workplace beneficial to all.
Katherine Brown, Spyic
4. Be mindful and flexible
Employers need to work with employees, especially those with neurological differences, to see what works better for them in different settings. Employers should be as flexible as possible in determining what’s best for their employees. They should also be ready to offer additional training options for remote employees.
There’s always the option to do in-person training as well if employees want to and can safely do so. Employers should remain open-minded in hearing from employees about their experiences and adjust their practices accordingly.
Seb Evans, Banquist
5. Have one-on-one meetings
To effectively manage a hybrid workplace, employers must ensure that employees have everything they need to be successful in their roles. Holding individual meetings with employees is a great way to learn about their career goals and whether they have any current issues. It is important to build employee relationships so they will practice honesty and open communication. Checking in on their health during these meetings lets employers know how they are coping with the new work model. Employers must actively help their employees adjust to the hybrid workplace and collaborate with them on ways to improve the experience.
Payel Gupta, Cleared
6. Ask employees what they need
The best thing that businesses can do to help those with neurological differences is to ask them what they need. Don’t make assumptions about what you think your employees need, instead ask if and what you can do to help them with the transition to a new way of working.
You can do this in a discreet manner simply by having one-on-one check-ins with all employees. This way, those with differences will feel comfortable and confident in telling management what they need to benefit from this transition.
Daniel Patrick, Daniel Patrick
7. Address underlying mindsets
Organizations can facilitate the greatest success when they go beyond superficial tips and tricks to address the underlying mindsets that enable employees to perform and feel their best.
These mindsets include:
- Clarity – understanding unique differences between employees that allow them to perform at their best
- Connection – giving employees a sense of belonging, feeling cared for and trusted
- Curiosity – the attitude of adaptation that helps employees enhance learning and agility
By focusing on these mindsets, organizations create space for people to become active partners in leveraging the flexibility hybrid work has to offer. Differences in neurology are an important reminder that each employee is a whole person, with a unique set of needs and preferences that foster success.
Get clear and curious about what works best for each person by fostering connection. Your people will feel respected, empowered, and energized to thrive in this new world of work.
Marissa Afton, Potential Project
8. Provide inclusive training and development materials
To ensure that the entire team benefits in a hybrid workplace, be sure to provide multi-channel training and development materials. It is important to recognize that not all employees are able to learn or process new information in the same way. If some of your workers suffer from hearing, sight, or neurological issues, a 'one-size-fits-all' approach runs the risk of alienating these individuals and making it harder for them to progress in their careers.
To guarantee that your hybrid workplace runs as smoothly as possible, repurpose training content into a variety of mediums. If you tend to hand out a written training document, look to complement that resource with a visual aid.
Alternatively, create an audio version so that workers can listen to it instead of reading it. Optimizing learning materials can make a great impact on those who learn differently, and helps the whole team feel that their needs are met in the hybrid workplace.
David Batchelor, DialMyCalls
9. Commit to your team and culture
Running a hybrid workplace is more than just offering a flexible working schedule. A manager of a hybrid workforce should make sure all employees feel heard and sense the company culture, all while keeping an open mind of your management approach.
When working remotely, many employees feel that they don't get the same level of attention as those in-office and miss out on moving up within the company. It helps to have one or many high-ranking employees working remotely, as this lets your employees know the spot from which you work doesn't matter.
Another struggle is ensuring that your company's culture is felt by those working from home. Using communication platforms like Slack, along with having daily or weekly one-on-one and team meetings through platforms like Zoom will help you establish a positive culture that all your employees can perceive. Lastly, allow yourself to change your management tactics, as hybrid workforces are constantly changing.
Kate Lipman, Embrace Scar Therapy
10. Encourage flexible working hours
When the working world became fully remote, companies were forced to let their employees be flexible in order to balance their family, mental health and professional needs. While hybrid work will allow employees to re-enter the physical workplace, flexibility to take care of those commitments is still something organizations should encourage to keep employees happy and productive.
For example, if they need to leave the office early to pick up the kids from school, let them! Allowing them to hit their goals on their own time while being able to take care of other duties will reduce their stress, keeping them productive and happy.
Ryan McSweeney, Electric IT Support
Webinar: Conscious disability inclusion strategies for DE&I and HR leaders
Did you know that over 1 in 3 people show unconscious bias against people with disabilities (including neurodiversities)?
In our latest webinar we were joined by DE&I experts at Next Plc, Cundall and Adjust Services to discuss how organizations can combat this exclusion. Listen to the recording to gain practical strategies to help you tackle unconscious bias and foster conscious inclusion.
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