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Webinar Recap: How to Foster More Inclusive Remote Workforces Through DEI

Although many companies participated in some form of remote work in the past, the coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated fully distributed workforces—we recently found that  70% of companies are now fully remote,  compared to about 5% before the pandemic. This rapid transformation to remote work, combined with a global health emergency and an economic recession that many fear will turn into a depression, has created myriad challenges for every company. 

On April 22nd, our panel of experts at Paradigm—Roni McGee, Katherine Ullman, and Evelyn Carter—hosted a webinar to discuss how companies can address one of these challenges—creating a more inclusive remote workforce. The panel answered important questions such as:

  • What IS remote inclusion?
  • What are the main concerns surrounding remote work?
  • What are ways to foster remote inclusion now? 
  • What do we hope to see as it relates to inclusion post-Covid?

Throughout the webinar, the panel presented several strategies for addressing issues around remote inclusion in performance management, connection, and information sharing. In general, when addressing these issues, the panelist stressed the importance of intentionality, being flexible, and over communicating with your teams. You can download the webinar here and you can read a summary of their tips and strategies below. 

Remote Inclusion in Performance Management

  • Be intentional about setting clear priorities and goals with your team. Check in often, and if the goals haven’t been completed yet, ask why and make accommodations.
  • Be flexible with working hours. Embrace asynchronous working and figure out how to best be productive when working on teams with different schedules. 
  • Be mindful of stressors that can impact people’s work. For example, many workers have additional child care responsibilities right now, they might be working in full houses which may be distracting, or they might be experiencing isolation or dealing with mental health issues. 
  • Over communicate if expectations have changed in the remote context. Articulate changes to priorities and norms early so that your teams have time to adjust to the ever changing circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

Remote Inclusion in Connection

  • Be intentional about reaching out to employees. Many employees might be feeling isolated right now, so schedule time to connect on their calendars. 
  • Be flexible about the ways we connect—introverts working remotely are still introverts, and we need to be mindful of that. Keep in mind that connection looks different for different people. 
  • Normalize the variety of reactions that people are having to this time. Some people may be feeling stressed and unproductive, whereas others may be hyper focused on work as a distraction. Both of these reactions are valid.
  • Communicate options for connections in various settings—lack, surveys, virtual coffee dates, and happy hours. Set clear norms for how to connect (e.g. are virtual backgrounds okay? what about casual clothes?)
  • Ensure that we’re fostering psychological safety in teams. For tips on how, check out Roni McGee and Analia Stratton’s blog post on the subject here.

Remote Inclusion in Information Sharing

  • Be intentional by setting regular intervals for communicating the latest updates. For example, at Paradigm we now have a weekly update that details what is changing each week and how it affects our business.
  • Survey and measure the effectiveness of remote meetings. These findings might have you reconsider meeting cadence, change company communications, or guide managers to be more explicit. For more information on remote workplace surveys, check out Katherine Ullman’s blog post here
  • Be flexible and transparent in what you communicate. Be okay with providing whatever information you can, even if it’s incomplete.
  • Be hyper communicative by posting announcements in multiple channels (e.g., email, Slack, meetings, etc.) 
  • Be aware that the more we communicate, the more trust we build with our employees during this turbulent time.

Overall, we need to be mindful of the fact that work in a post-Covid world looks different than it did before. Norms around information sharing, work schedules, and employee interaction are going to be forever changed after the pandemic, which means that we’re going to need to be even more proactive about inclusion going forward. For an overview of our remote DEI suite, click here.

April 23, 2020

If you’d like to discuss how Paradigm can help you foster a more inclusive remote workforce, contact us today!