IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Diversity and Inclusion Beyond the Office

Businesses need different approaches now that remote work has become the norm for many. By Jennifer Oladipo

IF REMOTE WORKFORCES ARE TO GO THE DISTANCE, business leaders will have to tread more carefully in order to create an inclusive work-from-home culture.

Understand that you hired people, not employees,’” says Amiel Harper, founder and principal of the Morpheus Consultancy, a brand strategy and business development firm in Chicago. Harper says regarding people as assets” and overlooking human complexity is bad for business.

Amiel Harper

Theres a lot to consider, but here are five tips to make remote work as inclusive as possible.

1. Recognize Complexity

Harper says employers seeking profitability and high levels of performance should know how the impact of personal obligations, the COVID-19 pandemic, and sociopolitical factors is heavier when people work from home. Because of the pandemic, normal support such as child care, schools, and adult care might be unavailable or unfeasible. At the same time, the loss of a workplace makes it harder to temporarily sideline personal and sociopolitical concerns.

Theres a large conversation right now about racial exhaustion,” says Harper, noting that news of violence against Black people hits Black employees in a more personal way. So does working for a company that publicly supports certain groups but lacks internal resources to support them at work.

Personalities also matter, and managers shouldnt underestimate their staffs variety of work style, duties, and other preferences.

Weve seen many managers surprised at their employees’ reactions to suddenly being a remote employee,” says Lauren Romansky, managing vice president at Gartner specializing in human resources. I know of one manager who thought an employees very direct in-person communication style meant she would thrive when remote work required more reliance on email. But the employee struggled a great deal with the lack of personal interaction.”

2. Rethink Policies

Harper and Romansky both say policies must be more flexible for remote employees, and one blanket set of benefits and accommodations is unlikely to work. For instance, Harper suggests hours of operation might need to change based on peoples locations and life circumstances. Also, family leave, medical leave, and short-term disability policies might need to change due to COVID-19, which has disproportionately affected communities of color. Leave is different when someone can be incubating a lethal infection for two weeks and not know it,” Harper says.

Employers should master prioritizing. Every business priority isnt equally important, notes Harper, and employees might have individual concerns that sometimes should take precedence over business tasks that can wait.

About the Author

Jennifer Oladipo's picture

JENNIFER OLADIPO is an award-winning business journalist. She’s written for national and international publications focused on science and technology sectors and has held communications positions in multiple organizations, including a Fortune 200 technology company.

ChannelPro SMB Magazine

Get an edge on the competition

With each issue packed full of powerful news, reviews, analysis, and advice targeting IT channel professionals, ChannelPro-SMB will help you cultivate your SMB customers and run your business more profitably.