Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, most industries had to readjust their perspective on work, and millions of workers faced a new reality where working from home became the norm. Being thrust into remote work opened the door to individual work preferences, including different work styles, work-life balance, etc. The pandemic also ushered in the broader acceptance of employees, thus diversifying the types of individuals for roles.
The benefits of an inclusive workplace are innumerable, but the primary one is that it encourages a more diverse and engaging working environment. Employers can stall their company’s creativity and innovation without diversity, inclusivity, and alienating customers.
Creating a more flexible workplace is a fantastic start for companies ready to support and enhance their DEI strategy. Offering flexible hours, business days, or locations can help businesses attract fresh talent and improve retention rates. It also promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity principles necessary to support marginalized and disabled workers.
Below we discuss in-depth how flexibility is crucial to your DEI strategy:
Builds a Better Environment for Marginalized Workers
For marginalized employees like Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities, going to work can also translate to dealing with microaggressions. As a result, many workers need to assimilate, i.e., change their clothes, behavior, or style of speech, to feel accepted by society.
Furthermore, researches reveal that most Black, Hispanic, and Latinx workers benefit from hybrid work, as do LGBTQ+ folks. Where microaggressions and discrimination can create a hostile workplace, promoting flexibility and diversity can encourage a safer environment.
Fosters a Safe Space for Employees with Disability
More than 60 million people in the US have a disability, which can create workplace barriers and decrease work opportunities. For instance, an employer may reject an employee with a visual impairment because they feel “they won’t be able to perform sufficiently.”
However, creating a flexible working environment can accommodate individuals with disabilities. Not only does it allow them to thrive, but it also ensures they can organize their schedule around their needs.
Ensures Caregivers Feel Included
Being a full-time worker and caregiver, regardless of if you’re caring for a child, special needs individual, or elder, can be demanding. While the Covid-19 pandemic raised the risk of burnout, it also highlighted the need for flexible working to make it easier to balance family life and work responsibilities.
Offering flexible days, hours, and business locations ensure parents and caregivers don’t have to juggle lengthy commutes and responsibilities. Instead, they can fit their work around family responsibilities, reducing the burden and improving overall well-being.
Shifts Your Focus to Outcomes
Among the silent rules of office work is that work must occur only during business hours and in a particular location. But this idea of “fixed hours” in a “specific office” is limiting and can sabotage your business’s potential. It causes employers to miss out on diverse and creative teammates from varying backgrounds and skill sets. Worst of all, it can create a poor workplace and rip your success.
Shifting your focus to quality outcomes from hours requires mental conditioning but promotes a productive workplace. Outcome-based work extracts unrealistic expectations of a particular role, such as “how,” “when,” and “where” you should work. Communicating the “what” and then trusting your workforce to deliver empowers your employees and encourages them to perform better.
Furthermore, it sets you up to be a better, more empathetic leader and provides your team members the confidence to share problems with you and seek support if they get stuck. Most people don’t experience the freedom of introducing an outcome-based culture, so your workforce will learn to trust their capabilities, enjoy space to use their skills, and hone decision-making skills.
Eliminates Rigid and Tiring Schedules
Look at offices through a diversity and inclusion lens, and you’ll realize the working environment is inaccessible for numerous reasons. Having to commute to a physical place, sit straight for eight hours, and share a space with people with diverse work styles is stressful and tiring.
Managing this load while taking care of your mental health can become impossible, especially if there’s rarely a need to work in an office. However, creating flexible schedules can attract individuals from diverse backgrounds, like parents, people from different time zones, and POC.
The best part? Early birds and night owls can produce high-quality work based on the hours their brains function best. Plus, building a safe and encouraging environment where employees feel free to test hours that match their unique flow can be fun and beneficial for the business!
Boosts Creativity and Productivity
Since diversity and inclusivity encourages a safer and happier workplace, it’s no surprise that teams with diverse background are smarter. Eliminating homogeneity and creating a diverse workforce helps remove groupthink and draw fresh and innovative ideas.
Employers who overcome their bias can add a fresh perspective to their team. Furthermore, it encourages employees to become more productive.
Attracts New Talent Worldwide
Hybrid work and flexible hours open employment opportunities for team members with diverse backgrounds, such as those living in another country, refugees, or having disabilities. Reducing the barriers for people who would have otherwise found it challenging to secure an interview can improve your brand’s image and attract talented workers worldwide.
So, advertise your company’s job openings on global job boards, and you’ll be surprised to see who applies. True workplace diversity starts with thinking talent first and location second!
Improves Work Culture
Another great reason to create flexible work schedules is that it boosts workplace morale and engagement. By allowing employees to enjoy a better work-life balance, you encourage them to lead happier, more fulfilled lives.
Moreover, increased happiness and engagement translate to more productive and satisfied employees. If your team members are happy with their work situation, there’s less risk of them seeking work elsewhere.
The Bottom Line
Companies unwilling to develop their workplace environment will struggle to attract and retain happy and engaged employees. In the future, leaders must focus on creating flexible work to satisfy existing team members and capture hires from diverse backgrounds.
By creating a flexible workplace, businesses put trust in employees to crank out high-quality work based on their unique working style, fostering a positive workplace!