3. Master Conflict Management
It’s hard to manage conflict productively when people aren’t visible, says Romansky. Yet, effective conflict management is crucial to ensuring everyone feels valued and can work productively.
Conflict can arise from accommodations such as personalized workloads and goals based on individuals’ circumstances, Romansky says. She and Harper both say good conflict management requires transparency about intended changes and exactly why they are needed. Then, managers need to be genuinely open to feedback and flexible enough to change in response.
4. Communicate Like Never Before
Romansky says the informal interactions that would normally foster inclusion and belonging now require deliberate planning. Remote workers can’t chat at their desks or gather for quick updates about team successes. They also risk losing access and visibility to people in authority.
Meanwhile, online-only communications can be challenging for some, so groups need multiple options for how to engage, such as speaking and chat functions. Conference software might also offer nonverbal feedback options that let people signal they need a slower pace or a break, for instance, or that they agree or disagree.
“[Managers] also need to be sure they’re being equitable as they think about work assignments and performance evaluation without the ‘extra’ in-person exchanges that can support many of these processes," says Romansky.
5. Remember the Payoff
The effort to create an inclusive work-from-home culture is good for business too. “Employers who’ve been effective at listening will draw better employees and get more out of them,” says Harper, adding that employees and recruits won’t forget who made the extra effort to be inclusive while remote—and who didn’t.
If you’re unsure what to do, seek expert help. Failure can be embarrassing for companies, and missteps incredibly offensive to employees, Harper says.