While the traditional workplaces of yesterday are unlikely to return, the focus for organisations remains squarely on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

According to research from the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), employees in inclusive teams are five times more likely to be satisfied with their job, and three times less likely to leave, than workers in non-inclusive teams.

Additionally, studies show that millennials and younger generations are more concerned with diversity and inclusion in the workplace than their predecessors.

With this in mind, DEI is now the lynchpin of successful recruitment and employee retention. And as working from home becomes the norm, the focus must shift to creating an inclusive virtual environment and dynamic.

RELATED: How to manage a remote team effectively

Strategies to reinforce DEI in remote workplaces

The effects of non-inclusive, non-diverse workplaces are insidious: low employee engagement, high turnover rates, ‘groupthink’ and stifled innovation can have serious consequences on a company’s long term success. Without early intervention, these dynamics have the potential to run rampant in a remote environment.

Conversely, the enhanced connectivity and flexibility brought about by remote work opens up a new world of possibilities to promote inclusivity and ensure everyone has the opportunity to do their best work and meaningfully contribute to the organisation.

Here are four strategies to reinforce DEI in a remote context:

Step up your virtual collaboration efforts

While some might argue remote work hinders the potential for brainstorming and idea-sharing, it also presents a significant opportunity.

Cross-functional teams and employees in different locations now have the ability to collaborate like never before, essentially making it possible for anyone in an organisation to have their voice heard.

However, taking advantage of this opportunity means actively encouraging collaboration: leverage technology to facilitate open discussions, and ensure all team members have an equal opportunity to contribute.

Commit to remote team-building

Without the benefit of face-to-face interaction, it’s critical to facilitate team-building opportunities and encourage interaction across the whole team. This could include:

  • Setting up remote sessions dedicated to introducing new team members
  • Assigning unfamiliar team members to complete specific tasks together
  • Introducing exercises or games that encourage interaction between team members
  • Hosting virtual social events such as Friday afternoon ‘drinks’ or themed lunches

Introduce new training opportunities

The remote work environment calls for a more proactive approach to training and career development. Look for opportunities to facilitate cross-functional training and group learning, and experiment with new ways to foster inclusive learning, such as virtual knowledge sharing sessions and mentoring programs.

On an individual basis, schedule regular one-on-one check-ins to discuss how team members are tracking against their professional development goals, and ensure all team members have access to equal learning opportunities.

Encourage team members to commit to DEI goals

Everyone is accountable for driving DEI in a remote working environment. Reinforce the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion by encouraging team members to set their own achievable objectives around DEI. For example:

  • Speak up when someone is being excluded or mistreated
  • Set up time to speak with someone you’re not familiar at least once a month
  • When someone is interrupted during, bring the conversation back to them
  • Draw attention to discriminatory or “other” language
  • Join a group dedicated to a diversity and inclusion initiative
  • Make a conscious effort to learn more about other people’s values and experiences

Remote working certainly comes with challenges, but leaders who take action early and often to promote DEI will ultimately be rewarded with a cohesive, committed and loyal team – regardless of what the future of work may look like.

For support with remote hiring, get in touch with a specialist Michael Page recruitment consultant to discuss your requirements.

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