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Insights How can we ensure inclusion within a remote workforce?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become commonplace, marking a dramatic change in our working lives. Working remotely could become a permanent arrangement for a large number of employees across the globe, and firms must adapt to ensure that their operations align with the changing world. Diversity and inclusion are a huge part of a successful business and ensuring inclusion within a remote workforce is a new challenge for businesses.

At AtkinsRéalis , and our Aktins and Faithful+Gould businesses, diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of everything we do, and we are passionate about ensuring that the workplace is an inclusive environment for all. Challenges from COVID-19, isolation and remote working are the driving force behind a range of new obstacles facing both employees and employers. Here, we discuss how we can ensure that inclusive practices are being implemented within a remote workforce.

Increase team building activities

Diversity and inclusion often create a high-performance culture; therefore it is imperative that all businesses make it a priority within their remote workforce. Although many workers are well-suited for remote work, it doesn’t mean they feel as connected and included in a virtual environment. Creating and incorporating structured team building sessions can be a powerful tool in ensuring that all employees feel included and noticed.

Stimulate social interaction and strengthen professional connections by hosting virtual events, social gatherings, and ongoing conversations about diversity and inclusion. You can also ask team members to volunteer to organise these team-building events and share the responsibility to encourage engagement. 

Promote participation

Without a concerted effort to address the issue, exclusionary dynamics within workforces have the potential to be increased in a remote context. One key area to keep a watchful eye on is each team member’s participation in conversations and projects. With virtual meetings, it can be substantially more difficult to get involved in a discussion and employees can often feel left out of meetings.

To counter this, team leaders can establish direct communication with workers and make a point to draw them into team discussions. This can ensure that team members have an equal opportunity to contribute to virtual meetings. Be aware of everyone’s communication methods and practices and try to incorporate them into each meeting that you have.

Cater to people’s needs

A diverse workforce will often mean that employees will have a range of different lifestyles, responsibilities and needs. With remote working, personal challenges can often be overlooked as employers don’t have as much face-to-face time with their team members, making it more difficult to spot an issue.

As a leader, it is important that you understand what someone is facing and offer to make adjustments to ensure that they can perform their role to the best of their ability. This can be as simple as asking a team member if they are experiencing any potential distractions or challenges that are affecting their working lives.

Simple changes such as allowing parents to leave a meeting early to pick up their children on time can make the world of difference to an employee’s life and state of mind. Catering to individuals’ needs should be a priority for any firm looking to create an inclusive environment amongst their remote workforce.

Create individual inclusion targets 

Every member of a remote workforce plays a role in creating a more inclusive working environment. Businesses should ensure that there is a culture amongst each employee of establishing accountability and making the effort to be inclusive.

A great way to improve the inclusion of a workforce is to create individual inclusion targets. Ask each team member to commit to an inclusive practice to experiment with each week. These can include:

  • Notify someone if you witness any exclusive behaviour or language.
  • Pay attention to members of the team that aren’t speaking and actively bring them into the conversation.
  • Attend diversity and inclusion events.
  • Ask questions to learn more about different individuals and cultures.
  • Find your next role at AtkinsRéalis

    Implementing the steps above to ensure inclusion isn’t just a trend to follow. Instead, they are measures to promote inclusivity and diversity year-round. Making sure individuals from all backgrounds have the same opportunities for growth and learning is a core responsibility at AtkinsRéalis and a practice that we take great pride in.

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