Employers should consider how working from home can help promote diversity

Remote working options have been a big positive development that employers have been encouraged to utilise in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic caused many businesses to close, but those who could adapt, instead opted to get staff set up to work from home. Almost a year later and some have returned to office life full time, while some still operate with a blend of working from home and in the office. Employers perhaps haven’t considered how continuing to encourage remote working might promote a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Diversity at work

Employers have seen that productivity from employees working from home has remained high. The initial concern many had was that staff wouldn’t remain motivated when away from eagle-eyed superiors. But now that the large majority of workers have shown they can be trusted, is there a rush to return to an office? Companies are even hiring remotely via virtual interviews which is saving time and allowing for candidates from outside of the region to apply. Job searching for remote working opportunities is now a crucial element of a candidate’s thoughts when job hunting. A survey by job board, Zoek, found that 51% of candidates value the ability to work remotely.

Location, location, location

How does remote working help promote diversity? It removes the location bias when hiring. Many companies in major cities recruit in areas that have a high cost of living, and in order to ensure there are no teething issues for their new hire, they will disqualify candidates who can’t afford to relocate. Without the need to commute at all, people can apply for jobs in the likes of London without need to uproot to an expensive city or spend thousands a year commuting in from afar. 

Life matters

Employers should also consider the struggles that single parents or working mothers face when trying to pursue a career. Parents sometimes have to put the brakes on in their career so that they can raise a child. They often struggle financially as a result. Largely because of the lack of employment options willing to offer flexible working hours and remote working days. It’s a big ask for some to be able to afford around the clock daycare for children in their preschool years. Mother’s especially can benefit from remote working as they can continue to focus on their career much sooner after giving birth, whilst remaining at home to raise their new baby. 

Access granted

Over a third of workforces have one or more members of staff who live with a disability. Some of these can limiting their career advancement. For some physically disabled people, travelling to an interview alone is enough to make them withdraw their application. Especially in big cities where the majority of high paying jobs are located. 

Remote working options allow employers to recruit from a wider pool of candidates. Potentially finding someone who is better than other candidates but would otherwise be unable to travel into the office. Even though employers are obliged by law to make ‘reasonable accommodations’ for employees who have a disability.

Some people also suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety or perhaps they just find social interactions uncomfortable. Either way, working at home gives them the chance to work in their safe space and get to know people at a distance before possibly meeting everyone face to face at a later date.

The benefits of an inclusive workforce

While there are obvious employee benefits, the secret to remote working opportunities is how they can also benefit the employer. Diverse and inclusive workforces have been proven to be 36% more likely to outperform competitors. This can be down to a wider range of thinking and ideas. Perhaps there is also an element of gratitude towards an employer who is willing to give them a chance, when many others did not.

Don’t be too hasty to get back to normal. If you choose to continue remote working opportunities you could open your business up to more talented, experienced and diverse candidates. Potentially increasing performance and profitability as a result.

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