Top tips on inclusive workplaces and hybrid working

Heart of the City | 19 July 2023 | News
Top tips on inclusive workplaces and hybrid working

Members of our Foundations for Responsible Business programme recently enjoyed a surgery session on ‘your people’, where they could ask any people related questions to two experts from our ambassador companies. We were lucky enough to have two diversity and inclusion professionals, Katherine Parsons from ISS and Beth Try from Herbert Smith Freehills, volunteering their time to answer a wide variety of questions. Here are a few key takeaways if you’re looking for ways to improve work for your people:

Creating an inclusive culture

  • Explain the ‘why’. Changing cultures and behaviours take a long time. If your business needs to change processes and ways of working to develop a more inclusive culture, then it’s important to communicate why you’re making those changes. For example, if you’d like employees to use an accessible font, you need to explain why. You’re most likely to succeed in making a change when a colleague can explain why it’s important to them, and how the change will make a positive difference for them.
  • Engage your team. Think about different ways you can engage people in building an inclusive culture, here are some ideas:
    • Encourage senior leaders to role model inclusive behaviours and be more open about their vulnerability.
    • Ask everyone to be open and transparent about what they’re doing, for example don’t be apologetic for doing the school run. Explain that’s why you can’t work during that time and make sure people know you’ll be back online later.
    • Set up informal groups to get together and discuss (with food is always a win!). Get senior leaders involved so they can hear directly what’s impacting their employees.
    • Combine informal working groups with data from anonymous surveys, as not everyone will want to share their experience publicly.
    • Have the people in your team could develop a ‘how I work best’ one-pager which explains how they like to work, communicate and any adjustments they need. You can make this fun and turn it into a team-building activity by including sections such as ‘my favourite music’ or ‘my dream holiday destination’.
    • Train line managers on inclusion and how they can best support their teams. Give them the tools to have sensitive conversations and empower them to advocate for the people they manage.

Making hybrid working work

  • Make sure that when you bring people together, there’s a reason for it. Some of our members have in-person learning sessions, or encourage face to face 1:1s when people are in the office. You don’t want to make people come in and for them to be on calls all day.
  • Think about how the office set up does or doesn’t encourage collaborative working. Do you have areas for group meetings, spaces for people to connect and chat, and are there safe space rooms for people to be calm in?
  • Hybrid working is successful when there’s a level of trust between all employees. Develop a ‘how we work’ policy and role model the behaviour you’d want from your teams.
  • For people in non-office workplaces, especially those who work in manufacturing or are in an industry where you can’t do the role remotely, think about how you can replicate some of the benefits a hybrid worker gets. For example, working from home means that people can visit a doctor or a vet during working hours – how could you allow those same benefits for people on site? Work with those people to understand what they’d like, and explain that although not everything can change, you want to replicate the benefits where possible.

Thanks to Beth and Katherine for joining us and sharing your expertise with our members! Surgery sessions are one of the benefits that our members get – they can come along and ask any questions they have to experts from all areas of responsible and sustainable business. Become a member today to join us at the next surgery.

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