Every day, another organisation has publicly adopted a hybrid working model, and it’s a trend that seems likely to stay – thanks to the continued demand for remote working. But it’s important to remember that working remotely is just half of the hybrid model.
Don’t forget about creating a comfortable office environment because, if anything, it’s more important now – not less. Make this an opportunity to create a genuinely inclusive workplace.
What is inclusion in the workplace?
If you feel included, you feel safe, accepted, treated fairly, and like you belong. It’s hard to quantify these feelings – though it’s something we can help with – but there are some practical steps you can take to make your office an inclusive space.
How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace:
Disability: examples of inclusion in the workplace
- Doorways and desks: can everyone get in and around your office, regardless of their physical needs? Consider ramps, adequate desk spacing, handle placement, and other elements that will make your workplace more inclusive.
- Functional toilet facilities: are your toilet facilities accessible to all, and are there enough of them? To encourage people into the office, consider the fact that inadequate bathroom facilities will be a big factor in deciding to stay home.
- Training and understanding: are employees aware and considerate of people’s visible and invisible disabilities? It’s your job to spread awareness, so no-one is put under unnecessary pressure or discriminated against due to their ability.
- Everyone-friendly events: bar trips, ten pin bowling, and ziplining just won’t work for everyone – so consider accessibility when it comes to team social events, and make sure there’s an even spread of options to choose from.
Age: examples of inclusion in the workplace
- Multigenerational mixing: young, single staff are reportedly keener on the office – so they may come in the most. Prevent a divide between them and older (likely more senior) employees by assigning and rotating ‘in office’ days.
- Social elements to suit: afterwork drinks aren’t going to be an option for everyone – and ‘family days’ on the weekend will split opinion too. Consider a balanced approach that meets everyone’s social needs.
- Consider home situations: for some employees, your office might be an escape from working from their bed in a shared flat – so the hubbub of open plan working isn’t so appealing. Create a mix of quiet and collaborative spaces.
- Digital accessibility: you can be social media savvy and not know how to work a printer, or clueless about operating Zoom but a whizz with Excel. Encourage skills sharing, to bridge any gap between age groups.
Gender: examples of inclusion in the workplace
- Period leave & provisions: for people who have periods, returning to the office can mean juggling sanitary products, painkillers, and heat pads – consider providing free supplies, or even offering period leave to normalise this experience.
- Gender-neutral toilets: create a safe space for non-binary and transgender employees by providing gender-neutral toilets. Any associated costs will be repaid by everyone witnessing your commitment to inclusion, and there are many logistical shortcuts.
- Consider childcare: as the pandemic showed, many women still bear the brunt of caring responsibilities. Prevent further division by making life easier – whether it’s flexible hours for school pick-ups or on-site childcare provision.
- Give everyone a voice: the phenomenon of women struggling to be heard in meeting scenarios is well known – and observed in virtual settings too. Leaders should be aware, and consciously make space for a myriad of voices.
Ethnicity: examples of inclusion in the workplace
- Employee Resource Groups: Consider if facilitating and funding ERGs is right for your organisation, as a way to help staff members from minority groups share their experiences in a safe environment, within the office.
- Visible, audible D&I commitment: Be vocal and public about your commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace – through posters, mandatory training, guest speakers, and in your handbooks.
- Celebrate all holidays: Does your office observe Christmas and Easter, but ignores Diwali and Eid? Show a spirit of acceptance by celebrating any holiday your employees recognise, even if it’s in a small way.
- Enforce zero-tolerance policies: Your office unequivocally has to be a place where people feel safe and accepted. That means strict rules about the language people use, and the way others are treated.
We can help you achieve equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace
If you want to learn more about issues relevant to age, gender identity, ethnicity, or disability, you can read The Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Report. But if you’re ready to create an inclusive organisation – and boost performance – then why not get in touch?
Our D&I survey helps you measure inclusion, and learn how to improve it. And if you’re building out your hybrid working strategy, creating an inclusive office starts there.