Many businesses across the UK have introduced, or will soon be introducing, hybrid work models, allowing employees to work from the office, home or a combination of both. Some may enjoy the flexibility of having the choice between workplaces, however, a study by Stanford University revealed that, although they were 13% more productive overall, remote employees were promoted about half as often as their in-office colleagues.
Aside from office benefits, like easily working together on projects with the team; on-site tech support; fast Wi-Fi and of course, free coffee, working from the office after months of trying (unsuccessfully) to create the most comfortable home desk may actually be an exciting prospect for employees. However, for those who have to work remotely due to lack of childcare, looking after ill family members, or having developed anxiety issues over the course of the pandemic, it may feel unjust as they don’t have the option of this in-person visibility at the office.
A survey* of 3,000 workers and discovered that more than 1 in 3 (39%) employees who are working from home indefinitely are concerned they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to things like leadership visibility and receiving promotions.
And when broken down across the UK, this figure was highest in the following counties, where half felt they were at a disadvantage compared to their in-office peers: Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire.
Although the hybrid workplace allows for the flexibility of some barriers, could bias against remote workers create a new obstacle to overcome? While some employees may be enthusiastic to return to the office, others may struggle with the idea of being in public spaces nowadays, with the risk of the virus still very much present. Those who are parents may have difficulty finding childcare post-pandemic; or care for elderly family members affected over the last year, therefore they have no choice but to work from home.
Purple CV has put together advice for managers and employers on how to address these issues and ensure WFH employees feel as included as their in-office colleagues:
Conference calls where everyone dials in from their laptop
Even if they’re based in the office! Instead of creating a silent divide between employees dialling in from their home offices and those in the office, suggest that all meetings take place virtually for everyone involved, even if they’re physically in the office.
Create an informal work group chat
If you miss chatting with colleagues, ask if they’d be comfortable with joining an instant messaging group chat, where you can communicate during mutually convenient and agreed-upon hours. Here, you can share memes, funny videos and engage in casual conversation that may help mimic these in-person co-working relationships. After it’s safe to do so, you might all even feel comfortable enough to go out together for post-pandemic drinks!
Chat to other WFH colleagues
Voice your thoughts and share them with other co-workers who are perhaps in a similar situation. You might discover that there are potential solutions to the concerns you’re having – ones you might be able to bring up with your employer too!
‘Though it may appear inclusive for companies to introduce hybrid workplace models, it should be taken into account the various ways in which the pandemic has affected employees – as well as their families – both mentally and in their daily lives,’ says Andrew Arkley, owner of PurpleCV.co.uk. ‘Ideally, workplaces should be diverse and inclusive across all fields, therefore bias should not exist between employees.’