Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Out-Law Analysis 2 min. read

Considering diversity, equity and inclusivity in hybrid working arrangements

We now live and work in an augmented era, where workplaces are evolving with technological, social and cultural advancements.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses were already considering or starting to conduct virtual meetings and adopt agile working practices to meet customer needs, enhance workplace relationships and enable international teams to collaborate. The pandemic catapulted the working world in to virtual and remote working, on a global and cross-sector scale, which has now evolved to become the status-quo. People work remotely on some days and in the office on others.

When properly considered and well managed, this hybrid arrangement can really enhance workplace culture and how people experience a workplace. But while hybrid working can offer many benefits, it can also create new challenges for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.

Recognise what works for your business

Each business is unique and many employers may have already thought to include guidelines in their flexible working policies that determine the number of days required by individuals in the office during a given week. Having guidance enables an employer to manage the expectations of individuals and managers.

It goes without saying that businesses must work within legislative requirements when developing policy and guidance. However, remember to consider the impact a hybrid working guidelines and policies may have on culture and the potential for increased uptake of flexible working as well as the impact decisions have on talent acquisition and retention.

Be clear on what hybrid working can achieve

Employers should promote the impact that hybrid working has on organisational culture and team working, which is likely to positively impact customers through the service they are provided with. As a business considers how to adopt a strategic approach to hybrid working, it should think about what it wants to achieve. Individuals should recognise the different modes of productivity. One mode is task oriented, and the other is people and culture oriented. Both modes matter.

Employers should identify and promote the benefits of their hybrid working practices, so that people recognise why they are promoting a mixture of office working and remote working in a given week, and promote how a hybrid model supports customers. Benefits of hybrid working include meeting different customer demands at various times in the day and in separate locations. Further benefits include supporting the careers of working parents and people with other circumstances who depend on the flexibility hybrid working provides.

Work smarter to combat potential issues

It is important for companies to consider challenges and take proactive steps to address them: enhancing policies and procedures is one step towards healthy hybrid working. When positioning the approach for hybrid working amongst teams, employers should promote team working days and encourage same day in-office working to help discourage in-group and out-group behaviours.

Some businesses have made the decision to mandate their people to work a set number of days in the office, others have not. Employers should acknowledge and address the biases managers may hold toward in-person or remote work to ensure a level playing field. Further steps include acknowledging and addressing biases, ensuring that remote workers have equal opportunities for advancement, and providing resources to support remote workers and those who work from offices in different geographic locations to have a positive experience.

Learning should be provided to managers on how to manage the productivity and wellbeing of a hybrid team. In addition, managers should be trained on how to manage bias behaviours in their teams, that can hold back opportunities hybrid working provides for team culture and to work effectively. Individuals should be encouraged to consider and discuss the different modes of their productivity and the choices they make about their working week with their line manager.

Guidance should be provided for individuals to recognise how they can maximise on opportunities for success through hybrid working, promoting office working to collaborate and meet with colleagues and clients. Individuals could schedule quieter tasks for when remote working, so that valuable focus time on tasks and opportunities for collaboration in person are not lost.

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