In today’s world, office space is no longer a prerequisite for “working in an office”. With the growth of telecommuting and remote work, the “workplace” has extended beyond the confines of physical buildings to all corners of the globe. Remote work has been a rapidly growing trend for many years, but the arrival of COVID19 has made it a necessary element of the work environment. This shift towards more flexible models of work has far more benefits than organizations could think of at the beginning. In a world that requires dynamic problem-solving skills from all aspects of society, hiring a remote workforce provides an opportunity to bring more diverse perspectives from different geographies and backgrounds and across all job levels, functions, and teams to the table. More importantly, remote work promotes and enhances diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
The importance of Diversity and Inclusion
The impact of diversity and inclusion is undeniable in today’s business environment. According to McKinsey, companies that are gender diverse have a 15% higher chance of gaining better profitability, and ethnically diverse organizations experience a 35% improvement in performance when compared to their non-diverse counterparts. Furthermore, a study from Harvard Business Review that included 1,069 organizations across 35 countries and 24 industries showed that diversity directly related to enhanced productivity, as measured by revenue and market value. Boston Consulting Group also reported that diverse and inclusive management teams yielded 19 times more revenue than non-diverse teams.
The Need for Better Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in Australia
A study from Diversity Council Australia recorded that in 2019 three out of four Australians supported diversity and inclusion initiatives. However, inclusion at workplace study 2019 from the organization reported that aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander workers, people with disabilities, and employees from non-christian backgrounds experienced the highest rates of workplace discrimination and harassment.
Remote Work Models can Help Both Employees and Organizations.
The increasing popularity of remote work, especially ‘working from home’ trends, has numerous benefits for employers, employees, and society. Remote work can increase the inclusivity of workplaces by removing geographical barriers to employment and creating more career opportunities for those who otherwise feel excluded. This greater inclusion also fosters a better learning environment that can lead to increased creativity and innovation throughout companies. Furthermore, these remote workers will have no choice but to be involved in their company’s social responsibility initiatives because they are so close to the impact of their company’s social impact with lower travel costs, often leading to increased productivity and engagement on company projects. As a result, more remote workers will be considered for senior leadership roles and as company founders.
From a company perspective, remote work initiatives can offer many tangible benefits as well. It can help businesses downsize their overheads, including office rent, reduction in bills, and stationery supplies. Moreover, remote work allows employers to attract and retain top talent that might not otherwise be interested in working within the confines of a specific location. For example, the dramatic increase in remote work has led to many women returning to the workforce and even fathers forgoing their careers in order to meet their family commitments. In turn, this increases inclusivity because men are being encouraged to return to work without losing their family responsibilities due to the decrease of paternal leave. Those who are remote working can also reduce costs by decreasing time spent commuting from multiple locations and increasing productivity by reducing distractions while at work.
Working from home models also help companies retain top talent by allowing employees to work from anywhere within their jurisdiction and even across different time zones, which is especially beneficial for employees that have families or who want to take classes at distant colleges. Remote work options can also create opportunities for regional Australians. Overall, this more flexible work schedule eliminates the need for them to uproot their lives or relocate and allows them enough flexibility in their schedules to continue working while experiencing life changes.
A more diverse workforce can also help reduce the gender pay gap in companies by increasing opportunities for women to enter higher-paying roles or stay in those roles once they have already attained them. Furthermore, a diverse workforce creates an environment where individuals are more likely to recognize issues in their company and be more motivated to suggest improvements as a result of having individuals of various backgrounds and cultures working alongside each other.
Remote work enhances accessibility and removes visual biases, so working and collaborating in the virtual environment is an excellent choice for people with debilities. People with special needs or those who find it physically challenging to commute or navigate an office space can work from their home office that is already equipped with their needs. Hence, they can make meaningful and productive contributions to their employers with minimal costs. Working from home can allow flexibility and a better work environment for such individuals, as 48% of people with disabilities experience some form of harassment or discrimination at work in Australia.
Companies can also support inclusion and belonging for the LGBTQ+ community. For example, a survey conducted by LinkedIn of 2,001 LBGTQ professionals found that 24% hid their identity at the workplace, and 26% worried about their co-workers treating them differently. In the same study, many individuals mentioned their concerns of being overlooked in regards to promotions and salary raises, and 31% reported having faced blatant discrimination and microaggressions at work. Remote work can be more equitable and offer safer work environments for LGBTQ+ employees and improve the overall mental health concerns attached to the fear of being left out because of their identity.
Another potential benefit is that remote workers can increase engagement. As companies are able to attract more professionals, they have the opportunity to be more selective in their hiring practices. In addition, recent research suggests that those working remotely are more engaged than those who work in an office. This is likely due to the decrease in time spent commuting and increased work-life integration among these workers.
The advantages of remote work extend beyond the workplace as well, making it an attractive solution for millennials and retirees alike. Millennials have responded favorably to remote work both as employees and freelancers because they value flexibility, autonomy, and a sense of purpose over money. As a result, many companies have adopted this model of work because it is an effective way to attract younger talent and also decrease the barrier for older generations seeking employment after retirement. In fact, due to the increased freedom and control over their own schedules, remote working retirees can pursue their passions while contributing to society as a whole.
Overall remote work offers a more rational and less biased method of collaborating and working in a business environment. Recognizing these benefits of remote work initiatives in regards to diversity, inclusion, and numerous aspects, many global organizations such as Dropbox, Twitter, and Shopify have announced more permanent work-from-home arrangements.
When it comes to the diversification of the workforce, better inclusivity initiatives, and creating a more open and safe workspace, remote and flexible work options beyond the pandemic aren’t a complete solution. Companies all over the globe need to put in the effort to address underlying biases, eradicate discrimination and problematic behaviors, and promote inclusivity for all if they wish to create a prosperous culture to benefit from diverse talents.
Freelancing platforms like ConsultXperts are becoming an excellent means of finding the right talent with the right experience. Our platform offers work opportunities to experts from all walks of life, and we screen our candidates solely based on their skills and work experiences. We promote a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workplace so employers can find top talent while creating a more inclusive culture within their organization.