The D&I challenge of a hybrid work model

Many companies are adopting hybrid work models as they transition from remote arrangements improvised during the pandemic. Employers are making great strides in adapting communications, processes and policies to make hybrid work models successful at their companies. The trend is also playing a role in expanding recruitment efforts in a tight labor market, as it allows employers to look for new talent beyond the commutable distance to the office.

But there’s another important issue some employers may not have even thought about. It’s called proximity bias, a situation where managers might inadvertently give preferential treatment to in-office employees working alongside of them, potentially putting remote employees at a disadvantage.

To help prevent this situation from happening, the first step is to make sure managers fully understand the reasons driving employees’ need to work remotely. Gaining perspective on how different individuals might require different work arrangements to thrive and be productive can help companies develop and evenly apply policies and best practices that are equitable and inclusive—whether employees work in the cubicle down the hall or in their home office miles away.

Supporting neurodiverse individuals

Neurodiverse individuals, generally defined as people with different ways of thinking, learning, processing and behaving, may find working remotely to be more comfortable than in a typical office environment. They can customize their home offices to suit their individual needs, making their days more focused and productive. Allowing neurodiverse individuals to work remotely with equitable access to workplace opportunities can not only help create a supportive culture for employees, it can also enrich your company with new thinking and valuable skill sets.

Caregivers and remote work

Caregivers, a group that is predominantly female, may prefer working remotely. Employers can help make that choice a little easier and less stressful by providing them with the needed flexibility to balance work and caregiving responsibilities while ensuring they are getting the same opportunities as their in-office peers. With these considerations in mind, companies can retain key employees and benefit from the contributions of a broad range of talent.

A healthy environment for all

Everyone deserves a healthy work environment, especially older employees and those with weakened immune systems. In a healthy and supportive work environment, sick or immunocompromised individuals could feel comfortable working from home knowing it doesn’t put them at a disadvantage.

A remote work policy that is equitable and inclusive, meeting employees where they are, can help retain valuable talent and also help you cast a wider net to fill open positions.