Ways to promote inclusion in remote teams
Guest writer Hannah Williams discusses ways in which inclusion can be promoted in remote teams
Particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote teams have become increasingly common. Many employees got used to all the benefits of working from home, such as no commute and a better work-life balance, and wanted to add these as a permanent feature to their working lives.
Whilst this isn’t without its challenges for companies, remote working can open the doors to a wider, more inclusive team than if everyone had to come to the office, so it’s well worth the effort. Removing geographical and financial barriers by eliminating the commute can allow for a wider range of job applications. In turn, this means a more diverse range of hires, which broadens the scope of ideas and perspectives in the room.
But all of this relies on team members feeling able to be their authentic selves at work, in order to comfortably share their experiences and opinions. So how can you promote inclusion when the team is remote?
Encourage team members to get to know one another
Having a remote team can be difficult when it comes to building relationships and camaraderie. It is important for the team to develop strong bonds, as it helps foster meaningful working relationships and drives productivity.
To encourage team members to get to know each other better, consider allocating some time in meetings or company-wide events to focus on relaxed chatting, like icebreaker activities or even virtual coffee breaks. Listening to stories from each of your colleagues’ lives can help promote organic conversation and collaboration within the team. Asking relevant questions is also an efficient way to forge bonds with other remote members — it builds trust and understanding, which are essential for thriving teams!
Additionally, employees can be encouraged to interact with one another outside of standard work tasks, such as by joining a virtual book club or sustainability group. Increasing team rapport can help team members feel comfortable sharing their insights and opinions.
Make sure everyone feels heard
It’s important that everyone on the team feels like their voice is being heard. One way to do this is to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute during team meetings. In remote calls, this can mean using the ‘raise hand’ function to ensure that no one has to try and speak over each other. This can also be beneficial for less confident members of the team, who may not feel that their opinion is valuable.
Additionally, team members should be encouraged to provide feedback to one another, and all comments should be taken seriously. Promoting a work culture with a positive attitude towards feedback, rather than seeing it as something negative, will help teams give their honest opinions, which in turn should improve work processes.
Be aware of unconscious bias
Unconscious bias refers to the unintended assumptions or conclusions we make about people based on their race, ethnicity, gender, age and other demographics. This type of bias is dangerous in that it can lead to people feeling disrespected or discriminated against in the workplace.
All of us can benefit from taking time to explore our unconscious biases and work hard to keep them from influencing our behaviour and interaction with coworkers. It’s important to strive for a culture where everyone feels included and respected, no matter what category they fit into.
Remote workers can still benefit from unconscious bias training online or via a webinar, and all job adverts and company policies should be examined to ensure that they are fair and representative of the entire team. Additionally, team members should have the opportunity to raise any concerns or areas to improve without any negative repercussions.
A fairer team
As remote teams become more popular in the workplace, developing an inclusive environment will be essential for team success, as well as simply being the right thing to do. Leaders need to be aware of their role in fostering relationships and using accessible tools to ensure every member has a voice.
Enforcing these practices will result in higher engagement among employees, leading to better performance and ultimately higher levels of job commitment. A greater emphasis on inclusion will enable remote teams to engage with each other on a deeper level – build trust, become more creative, develop stronger collaboration skills, and take their productivity levels up even further.