Remote working has been one of the success stories of 2020.
Once thought of as an idealistic but perhaps unrealistic way of working, the pandemic has made it clear that for many roles, working from home is entirely possible.
The benefits for employees include zero commuting time, better work-life balance and more freedom and autonomy. And for employers, the advantages of remote employees are greater productivity, reduced office space costs and access to a larger and thus – more diverse – talent pool.
With such a significant focus on diversity and inclusion in 2020, remote working has been the perfect catalyst for employers to be more inclusive in their hiring decisions.
Let’s look at what remote working means for diversity and inclusion as we move forward.
In the past, new parents have been faced with the decision of going back to work or taking time out to raise their young family.
Despite the gender gap being closed year on year, women are still more likely to take a career break for caring responsibilities than men; this includes both looking after children and elderly relatives.
This means that large portions of the workforce have been limited in their working options, as taking a job role would have made them too far away physically from where they needed to be for their family responsibilities.
In recent years, employers have increasingly realised the importance of creating inclusive roles for new parents, but only since the pandemic has providing truly flexible positions for parents been a reality.
A recent Working Families report found that pre-Covid, 65% of mothers said they were afraid to change their job role in case they lost their flexibility, as did 50% of men. But post-Covid, 86% of parents now say they want to pursue flexible options, compared to only 46% before the pandemic, highlighting an increased demand for flexible arrangements, as remote working has now been proven to be a possibility in many roles.
One of the major impacts of remote working has been on employee work-life balance and hence, their mental health.
This once elusive concept has been made a reality since the pandemic, especially for those with previously long commutes. The pressure of a stressful job with the added stress of spending long periods away from our families can contribute to a mental health crisis.
It was reported that mental health, in general, had suffered during the lockdown, which is understandable. Still, as we look forward to life after the pandemic, where remote and flexible working arrangements become the norm, this is going to have a significant positive effect on employee mental health.
When individuals are given the option to work from home, this drastically improves their mental health – it’s all down to the individual. A study conducted during the Covid-19 crisis found that remote working can have a positive or negative effect on an individual’s mental health, depending on their personality traits – the key is to give employees the option.
Finally, let’s look at how the future of remote work is championing the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Diversity and Disabilities
Since the pandemic, employers have seen how easy it is to communicate with and manage teams who are based in different places. This has opened their eyes to the possibility of hiring talent from a wider range of geographical locations and opening their organisation to be far more diverse.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is illegal to hire or not hire based on discrimination of individuals with physical or mental disabilities, but this doesn’t mean that bias doesn’t come into play in many hiring decisions.
Very often, managers hire people with similar characteristics to themselves, or who they think will fit in with the team – this can lead to an organisation lacking in diversity.
As for disabilities, the pandemic has been a huge turning point in the history of inclusion. Writing in Forbes recently, Liz Johnson, the M.D. of The Ability People, a U.K. social enterprise which empowers people with disabilities highlights the fact that home working opens up opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
She states, “If we look at diversity and inclusion as a whole, we normalise difference as a whole, we push authentic inclusion. Focus on inclusion, and you’ll naturally get diversity,”
People with disabilities find it more challenging getting ready for and travelling to work; it can even be dangerous or sometimes impossible. Remote work is removing the barriers between people with disabilities and the roles they want.
Many organisations are considering making roles permanently remote (or at least with the choice to be remote), which is opening up new opportunities for people who would have in the past not felt able to apply.
The pandemic has opened many employer’s eyes to the possibilities that employing remote workers can bring.
Never before have limiting organisational barriers been challenged, and employers are able to create genuinely diverse teams of remote workers.
Remote work and its impact on diversity and inclusion in the workplace is one of the positives that we can take from the effects of the pandemic.
If you are currently looking for a remote financial role, we can help. We currently have a range of roles available for financial talent, call us on 01282 930930 or get in contact with our team to discuss applying for your next finance role in the North West.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from a wide variety of organisations including SME’s to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs; and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, get in contact with one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.