The remote working era is still fairly new, however, research is already supporting an increase in happiness amongst employees, and a preference to continue working from home—either through a hybrid or fully remote work model.
What’s most interesting, however, is that remote working has contributed to increased opportunities for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace, which is what many organizations have worked to incorporate for years.
Here are the ways in which a hybrid or fully remote work model is increasing opportunities for underrepresented communities and producing a happier and healthier workforce.
Location is no longer a barrier.
Years ago it was important for people to find jobs that were reasonably close to home, especially for those who relied on public transportation or walking. The option of applying for companies that provided higher wages and better benefits simply wasn’t available to many Americans, primarily those in low-income communities.
An increase in remote working environments has allowed people to seek better job opportunities outside of their communities, cities, and even states, providing them with a better means of caring for their families without the sacrifice of long commutes and expensive childcare.
Companies throughout the country are also able to hire employees from various communities that may have been underrepresented in their workforce, thereby increasing diversity, improving workplace culture, and providing greater opportunities for the overall success of the company.
BIPOC and LGBTQ are less vulnerable.
Prior to working from home, going to and from the office meant more to some people than energy spent getting ready and time wasted in traffic. It meant exposure to uncomfortable and sometimes violent interactions.
Research shows that Black drivers are 20 percent more likely than white drivers to be pulled over by a police officer. Members of the LGBTQ community are 4 times more likely than non-LGBTQ to be victims of a violent crime.
Remote working provides people with a safe working environment in which they are better able to focus on their workload—free from worrying about how others perceive them. This allows employees to be more productive when working from home, but helps to support their emotional and mental wellbeing, which could otherwise be compromised in a traditional working environment.
Caretakers can choose career and family.
For years, caretakers have had to choose between pursuing a career away from home and family, or sacrificing their career ambitions for more household responsibilities. This decision of family vs. career was even more difficult for low-income families as the costs of childcare were simply unaffordable, and the career options available within the community often provided too little pay.
Today, parents, grandparents, and other caretakers have more options. They are able to pursue careers outside of their communities while skipping the commutes, giving them more time to care for their families as well as the ease of proximity should an emergency crop up.
Though not easy, they can better juggle work and children when childcare is not an option. Perhaps, most importantly, they can pursue jobs with higher incomes, despite the distance, and provide a better living for their families.
People with disabilities can skip commutes and find better jobs.
When discussing diversity in the workplace, people with disabilities are often overlooked. However, they play a vital role in creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace culture. It is important that organizations recognize the positive impact remote working has on people with disabilities, and how their presence and leadership supports the growth of the organization as a whole.
People with disabilities may find it challenging to get to and from a physical workspace, or thrive in an environment that is not built for specific types of workers including hearing-impaired, visually-impaired, and those with cognitive and learning disabilities.
Having the option to create a more accommodating space from home that allows people with various mental, emotional, and physical abilities to thrive provides greater opportunities for employment, and increases the likelihood that employees will contribute more to the organization’s overall success.
Social pressures in the workplace are reduced.
The pressure to fit in at work is something most people have experienced, however, for BIPOC, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities, there is a fear of judgement in expressing themselves in a way that conflicts with the cultural norms of the company.
Therefore, when working from home, people are free to be who they are and conduct themselves in a way that brings about their best selves. This not only benefits their wellbeing, but increases their productivity and the benefits to the organization they work for.
While remote working is providing opportunities for increasing diversity, leaders need to work hard to ensure their culture is also inclusive and equitable. Those things don’t just happen because of an infusion of diverse talent. Remote working may be a big step in the right direction, but it is not the final destination.
How is remote work creating opportunities in your organization?
You’ve hired a more diverse team, now it’s time to get to work on building equity and inclusion into your company’s culture. Learn how our team can help.