COVID-19, Human Resources and Benefits

Cultivating an Inclusive Workplace Culture While Working Remotely

It’s more important than ever to bring employees together. The COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden shift to working remotely makes cultivating an inclusive culture in the workplace challenging for HR directors and employers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, employees have reported a similar set of concerns and challenges, including:

  • Mental health
  • Work-life balance
  • Workplace health and safety
  • A missing sense of connectivity and belonging with colleagues
  • Concerns about job opportunities

One of the ways employers can combat these concerns and challenges is through the type of culture they foster among their employees. Creating an inclusive workplace culture can bring many benefits to your employees and organization, including:

  • Improved job satisfaction
  • Lower turnover
  • Higher productivity
  • Improved employee morale (happier employees!)
  • Increased creativity, innovation, and problem solving
  • Increased organizational flexibility

This is new terrain for all involved and can be overwhelming to navigate. Here are some strategies to help foster an inclusive culture among your employees.

Maintain Communication

With many employees now working remotely and/or working different schedules, maintaining open communication can be difficult and may easily slip by the wayside. Encourage value and belonging among your employees with the following suggestions:

  • Collect employee feedback. Keep channels of communication open to address concerns as they arise.
  • Be empathetic. Recognize the anxiety employees are experiencing.
  • Promote fairness and respect of all workers. Talk with your employees to ensure new policies and guidelines promote fair treatment of workers and allow employees to have equal access to needed resources.
  • Encourage confidence and inspiration in your employees. Create conditions for workers to speak up and make professional concerns and personal needs known. Leverage the brain power of a diverse workforce to change any policies or behaviors that may be unintentionally exclusive.
  • Be understanding of at risk employees. These are difficult times for everyone, but some may be more at risk or struggling more than others due to individual circumstances, support structures, resources, or personal health.

Support Remote Employees

Working remotely creates new difficulties for employees. Stay up to date with remote working conditions and develop plans to address them.

  • Set realistic goals and timelines. Be clear about business expectations and make time to check in with employees individually to determine their needs.
  • Be flexible. Consider allowing employees flexible working hours and responsibilities. If managers work with employees to set clear goals and realistic timelines, employees can focus on achieving goals on a schedule that fits their remote working environment.

For additional ideas to help support remote employees, check out our article “7 Tips for Boosting Self-Motivation Among Remote Employees.”

Stay Connected While Working Remotely

With the shift to working remotely, in-person interactions that easily happened in the workplace aren’t so easily obtained now. Consider creating online games, activities, and competitions for employees to stay connected socially despite the physical distance. Create a “quaran-TEAM” and brainstorm ways to maintain social engagement through fun virtual activities. Here are some ideas:

  •  Quarantine Bingo – A new take on a classic game where employees check off activities they’ve completed in quarantine, with items including personal wellness activities, hobbies, and fun work-from-home moments.
  • Recipe Sharing – An opportunity to share their favorite recipes and connect with colleagues in the kitchen, providing continued inspiration as everyone exhausts their go-to meals.
  • Team Lunch – Everyone joins a virtual meeting and eats lunch together. Mix it up with some chit chat or a game.
  • Workspace Photo Competition – An opportunity to submit fun pictures of your home office, new “co-workers,” comfiest work outfits, etc.

A business is only as successful as the people in it. While these are isolating times, take concrete steps to bring employees together. Lead with compassion and remain committed to fostering a work environment that is not only physically safe, but inclusive and connected.

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