Remote work is about much more than flexibility, productivity, a relaxed dress code and Zoom meetings. It can be about giving people the ability to work at all.
According to the ONS, more than 8 in 10 workers who had to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic said they planned to work at least part-time from home. The proportion of people hybrid working has risen from 13% in early February 2022 to 24% in May 2022.
97% of candidates registered want a 2/3 split of Hybrid working as a minimum.
90% of permanent roles offer some form of hybrid working
We have been looking into the benefits of hybrid and remote working for D&I in companies in the West Midlands and the UK in general. Carry on reading to find out how facilitating hybrid working can help improve diversity and inclusion in your workplace.
Who can benefit most from remote or hybrid working
The option to work remotely is not just good for employees. It is a major step toward creating a more inclusive workplace. Three groups can be disadvantaged when companies make the “ability to travel daily to an office” a condition of employment.
Requiring employees to commute to an office physically excludes many people from applying for and thriving in jobs they are capable and willing to do.
People primarily responsible for childcare
This group comprises mostly, though not exclusively, women. It is important to note that the ability to work flexibly between home and office can allow both parents to share the responsibility.
Taking commuting time out of the daily routine can make starting the working day at a traditional time while still doing the school run a realistic possibility.
Distance from school or other childcare and the workplace can cause additional stress and time away from work when children are ill. This particularly affects families who rely on public transport.
As well as the extra cost of travelling to work (especially with the recent increase in fuel costs), the price of before and after-school care can be a deal breaker when choosing which job to take. It is an unfortunate fact that many talented individuals are effectively excluded from the workplace due to the unwillingness of some employers to flex.
People with mental or physical disabilities
For people with mental or physical disabilities, there can be many practical barriers when travelling to or accessing workplaces.
The extra pressure of travelling may make being present for the working day too much for people with anxiety disorders or autism, for example. This may not be the case every day of the week, but the flexibility of not having to face a commute may mean the difference between being able to work or not on that day.
These barriers may be overcome by flexible working hours or location. With some fairly simple, reasonable adjustments, a new pool of willing and capable job candidates could be added to the recruitment mix.
People struggling with the cost of transportation
As we mentioned previously, with the price of fuel still at record levels and the cost of living crisis coming into play, saving the cost of travel could make a real difference to people’s ability to choose your organisation as a place to work.
Increasing the spread of the type of team member able to take advantage of home working (which at the moment is very much weighted towards higher earners), can work to the benefit of team members and employer.
Another thing to consider is that reducing the cost of working can make a significant difference to a worker’s well-being and reduce stress. With wellness and well-being being increasingly important considerations in maintaining a healthy, productive workforce, this should not be forgotten.
Is remote working the only solution to rising transport costs?
Some companies are choosing to offset increasing fuel costs by offering a free tank of fuel as a perk or increasing salaries for the same reason. All employees would not feel the benefit of this to the same extent, which can cause its own problems (equality and equity being very different things). In some cases, one-off bonuses are offered to cover the impact of the cost of living. How practical this is will depend on how long it will take for the prices to fall back to ‘normal’ levels.
“Value what the person can bring to your company whether they are in the office five days a week or not”
The benefits to employers of an inclusive remote workforce
Working remotely can help to level the playing field for many groups. Bringing down the barriers to entering the workplace and allowing companies the opportunity to recruit and retain diverse and inclusive teams.
Increase the pool of potential employees
Maybe your ideal candidate lives just out of daily commutable distance of your location. Flexing your recruitment boundaries could be key to completing your team. Being open to flexible home working may allow you to keep a star team member who is moving house or whose ability to access your workplace has been limited for several reasons. If you have questions about implementing a flexible hybrid or remote working policy, get in touch for a chat.
Better ideas, products and customer relationships
Bringing the experience and perspectives of a more diverse group of people can help improve your organisation’s services and products. Some organisations believe that having everyone in the same space is the only way a team can develop solutions to problems and produce great new ideas. The team that they have in their office or studio may be missing a vital perspective on an issue as their location prevents particular types of people from joining the conversation in the first place.
Where is remote working prevalent?
There are certain sectors where employees are more likely to be offered remote and hybrid work. It is fair to say that some sectors and roles do not lend themselves to working away from the workplace.
Tech – in many roles, the only requirement for effective working is to have a computer connected to the internet. Tech workers were some of the first to embrace the Digital Nomad lifestyle, with some choosing to travel the world while making their living. Most towns and cities will have some form of flexible co-working space, even if it is just an accommodating coffee shop. At a less extreme level, many companies are expanding the pool to Europe as a work from anywhere policy
Councils and charities – many organisations in these sectors offer as much home working as you want. They can save on the overheads of running huge offices (a growing consideration as energy costs rise without the same sort of capping that domestic users have). This type of organisation may also offer lower salaries but offset this by giving flexibility through home working as a benefit.
Sales – some companies are actively against remote or hybrid working as they feel their teams need the ‘sponge’ effect that individuals gain from mixing with fellow sales colleagues. Maintaining team cohesion and a sense of community can be a major challenge with a distributed workforce. Can you develop a real team spirit over a Zoom call or a chat channel? Many people think so.
How KC Group can help with your Diversity and Inclusion policy
KC Group have been leaders in recruitment for 25 years, and with our broad experience, we are ideally suited to help you with the development of your diversity and inclusion strategy and the implementation of a comprehensive and useful diversity and inclusion policy.
We have a long-term commitment to making a real difference to diversity and inclusion in recruitment. Contact us now to find out more about the resources our bespoke Diversity and Inclusion Cycle has to help you grow your team.
Recent research has found that more than 50% of UK companies still can’t fill business-critical roles
Remote working jobs in Birmingham
With its vibrant and diverse economy and being England’s second city, there is a wide variety of remote working jobs in Birmingham and the surrounding area. It may seem irrelevant to mention a specific location when talking about working from home. Still, most home-working jobs will require some face-to-face contact at some point, and some would be more accurately described as hybrid jobs where time is regularly split between home and office.
Birmingham is a very well-connected city which can be reached from most of the UK in a couple of hours, at most, by car or train. Its location means that even remote workers could visit a central office from time to time without major issues. And with just a bit more planning, a meeting could include team members from Brussels as well as Brierly Hill.