Making Remote Work And The Hybrid Workplace An Equitable Solution
In its most basic definition, a hybrid work environment blends in-person and remote work. Setting employees and businesses up for success in our new reality is of utmost importance to many employers. As employers try these new working environments, the importance of equity in hybrid workplaces will likely come to the forefront.
Here’s what we know: Many major companies — including Facebook, Microsoft, American Express, Starbucks and Target — have announced they're either extending their work-from-home period or switching to long-term remote work. Some businesses will allow employees to continue working off-site part of the time or set up a portion of their workforce to work from home entirely. The challenge going forward will be to create a successful work experience for all employees in the new hybrid environment. So far, the focus for many companies has been on providing access to employees through video conferencing and technology.
But in my opinion, it simply won’t work to add more video conferencing to the mix. We’ve seen how that played out during the pandemic as some employees struggled to connect in the virtual environment. As leaders work to level the playing field of technology and access, can they say they have resolved some of the inequities in the workforce? As the CEO of a digital learning agency that creates custom training programs, I think creating equitable access to resources and opportunities for remote and in-person employees will be very important.
Prioritizing Equity In The Hybrid Workplace
I believe focusing primarily on the technological aspects of work will result in a view of the issue that's too narrow. The past year has clearly shown that our workplaces are a reflection of our society. It's important to be thoughtful and consider how a hybrid work environment could exacerbate existing challenges around workplace equity in home environments, relationship-building and content appropriateness. Leaders should take care that the choices they make for employees won’t impact certain groups disproportionately or prioritize certain groups over others when it comes to social capital and networking, skill-building and upward mobility in the hybrid workplace.
An equitable workplace should prioritize both access to resources and investment in employees. It's important for organizations to provide the tools for all employees to be successful as well as opportunities to keep teams connected and for individual employees to thrive. Consider rethinking the modalities used to deliver information, the quality of the content and the user experience.
For example, leadership, management and corporate trainers may want to create communication plans that translate for both in-person training and remote learning. They can provide live chats, forums and social sites, downloadable FAQ resources and other digital tools to stay connected and improve the user experience. Beyond the digital realm, there are many things that can be done to create on-site environments that enable in-person networking and the social cohesiveness that's critical for success in corporate environments.