- The last Running Remote event of 2020 focused on leading with empathy, and how a distributed workforce provides equal opportunities for everyone.
- Now that workers are no longer hindered by their geographical location, companies are able to open the door to a more inclusive workplace.
- Business leaders have the opportunity to “rejuvenate” their workforce and make positive change.
The last Running Remote Online conference of 2020 took place on November 18, and the insight from keynote speakers couldn’t have been more relevant to our transformed workforce.
In wake of the ongoing pandemic, leaders of distributed workforces offered their insight into what works and what does not work when operating remotely.
Particularly during a time when every person is experiencing their own trials and tribulations, business leaders are learning how to lead in a more effective way, while gaining their own insight into the lives of their employees.
How Remote Work Enables Diversity and Inclusivity
While the last several months have been challenging for everyone, remote work policies have opened the door to a rejuvenated global workforce in terms of diversity and inclusivity.
At the Diversity & Inclusion panel, leaders from various companies discussed how the mass migration to remote work policies has impacted diversity in the workplace.
“Remote [work] provides what I call a ‘crisitunity’ and that’s the combination of crisis and opportunity,” said Milena Berry, who is president at female-driven recruiting platform Power To Fly. “It’s something that I’ve been thinking about since day one, since we created Power To Fly.”
“Allowing remote work allows you to actually reach people in pockets who have opted out of the cookie cutter lifestyle of the big cities for various reasons. It might be disability, it might be mothering and having children, it might be aging parents,” said Berry.
“We, at some point, can’t afford the expensive lifestyle in big cities and we decide to opt out.”
Morgan Legge, head of sales and success at Convert, added that remote working is enabling diversity in a way that has never been seen before. Now that workers are no longer hindered by their geographical location, companies are able to open the door to a more inclusive workplace that can be improved with unique insights from this talent pool.
How Business Leaders Can Prioritize Diversity
So what can business leaders do to ensure that their workforce prioritizes and values diversity?
For starters, do not hire anyone that does not share your company’s principles.
Second, set an example for employees. Being vulnerable, empathetic and sharing more about yourself with colleagues allows them to feel part of a community even when they are working in different time zones.
Lastly, put your money where your mouth is.
While it’s true that inclusivity can be accomplished through practice, higher-ups are not necessarily trained in dealing with these issues. Hire human resources professionals who have a deep understanding of what it means to support every workers’ needs. Hire a copywriter who knows how to create job listings that avoid exclusive language and attract the most diverse talent.
The shift to a distributed workforce has also altered the way employers and colleagues view one another.
“Leading with an empathetic ear”
Business leaders have been given a peek into the personal lives of their workers unlike ever before — whether it be those juggling their kids’ remote learning, caring for elderly parents or simply working with limited office resources from their dining room table.
Although this adjustment has been undoubtedly difficult for such workers, the last several months has given employers the opportunity to reevaluate their own leadership methods.
At the Talent Management panel, leaders discussed the evolving priorities of workforces, such as maintaining employee engagement levels, putting more value into diversity and leading with an empathetic ear.
Without empathy, business leaders can risk losing their top talent and hinder their company’s overall productivity. Now more than ever, companies need to ensure that they are more understanding and yes, even lenient. Doing so can help with engagement levels at a time when keeping employees connected is a huge struggle.
“Engagement with your employees and increasing engagement levels is important, but also allowing them to be part of the solution is key too,” said Bryan Hornung, CEO at Xact IT Solutions Inc.
“When they’re struggling and they have a problem, the general nature of leaders is to provide solutions or provide answers. A lot of times allowing the employee to have a say in how this can be a benefit or win-win for both the employee and the company is important, to get to that ultimate solution that works for everyone.”
After the worldwide recognition of the #BlackLivesMatter movement following the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, George Floyd and several others, companies realized the need to revamp their own diversity strategies to ensure employees of color feel seen, heard and supported.
“We created programs where there is a lot of Black-only space in our organization now, which I think has been hugely beneficial,” said Zoe Harte, Chief People Officer at Upwork. “We had a Black excellence summit in January that was a forum for people to bring concerns about what was happening in our organization and places where we felt we were doing a good job, but there were blindspots that we hadn’t addressed.”
One of the biggest takeaways of Running Remote’s last virtual conference of the year is that the workforce has been altered for good. The taboo of understanding what may be going on in your colleagues’ personal life is diminished. Despite sometimes being in different timezones, teams have never been closer.