How can hybrid working foster diversity and productivity? – The European Sting – Critical news and insights on European politics, economics, foreign affairs, business and technology

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This article is brought to you through The European Sting’s collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Mark Edward Rose, President and CEO, Avison Young


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has increased employee demand for flexible work practices, but many business leaders remain skeptical of hybrid work arrangements.
  • A hybrid work model is key to attracting a diverse workforce, including three groups in particular: working parents, people with varying health needs, and people impacted by the rising cost of living nearby. from their office.
  • Incorporating hybrid working into a workplace strategy can improve work-life balance, boost engagement and productivity, and create a diverse and equitable workforce, driving innovation and growth.

Real estate has been catapulted onto the C-Suite agenda. The increasing flow of workers returning to the office is forcing companies to review their entire work environment strategy. CEOs and CFOs are balancing the costs of the physical workplace against the benefits of bringing employees together in one place. Research conclusively shows that the better the workplace, the more employees want to spend time there; the right kind of space, in the right place, is key to attracting and retaining talent.

Effectiveness of the hybrid working model

Employers want their teams to meet in the office and employees want the same, but not all the time. The old “weekdays, nine to five, at the office” paradigm seems to be a thing of the past. Many workers now prefer a hybrid arrangement that gives them the flexibility to work remotely for at least part of the week. Evidence also exists to show that hybrid working arrangements can contribute to better organizational performance through increased employee engagement and lower turnover.

At the same time, many business leaders remain skeptical about the effectiveness of hybrid working. A significant proportion say they will require employees to be back in the office full-time. The current subject of this debate essentially boils down to “the quality of life of employees versus the productivity of companies”. However, this overlooks something crucial to harnessing the power and potential of a workforce: hybrid working can be a critical enabler of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) across the workforce. workplace.

For those of us who believe DE&I is non-negotiable, attracting diverse talent is a key priority. This is where the hybrid work model comes into its own. It’s not just about preferences or performance; the hybrid working model, when executed correctly, specifically allows us to access talent within certain target groups. Here are three key examples:

1) Women with primary family responsibilities

Attracting and retaining women with family commitments has always been a major challenge. It has been aggravated by the Covid-19 crisis. Millions of women left the U.S. workforce in 2020 due to parenting difficulties caused by school and daycare closures.

Many women express a particularly strong desire for flexible working arrangements to help meet the particular challenge of balancing childcare schedules with commuting. This situation is compounded for those with additional care responsibilities, for example, those with aging parents or disabled family members.

The hybrid model supports the unique lifestyle needs of working women. It effectively levels the workplace by removing and mitigating challenges that would otherwise become barriers to career and/or quality of life.

2) People with physical or mental health problems

Commuting is a significant and often literal barrier for many of the millions of people with some form of disability. Working remotely can make it easier for them to fit into the organization and contribute, especially those whose homes have been adapted to meet their needs. This does not absolve us of the ongoing challenges of public transport and workplace design, but it can help those who continue to face these challenges on a daily basis.

It’s also important to remember that not all disabilities are physical: 18% of the US population has a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Many of these people struggle to get to the office five days a week, especially when their commute is long, complicated, or requires crowded public transportation. Contemporary workplace design now caters to neurodiversity, providing easy access to private or quieter spaces as needed, but many spaces remain challenging for people with heightened sensitivities.

A hybrid work model, particularly one that includes a physical office designed to accommodate fluctuating uses, empowers every professional to engage, work productively, and feel included in their work community, whatever challenges he may face.

3) People facing economic limitations in housing

Even before the pandemic, we had seen a steady increase in commute times, with an increasing number of “super commuters” traveling more than 90 minutes each way due to cost of living issues in the neighborhoods around their offices. .

Many workers end up being effectively excluded from employment opportunities simply because they cannot afford to live within reasonable distance of their office. This makes the location of one’s home an implicit qualification for employment and creates barriers to hiring for workers from many demographic groups, especially marginalized populations and minorities.

A hybrid working model again offers the best of both worlds: the technology and tools to work from home for a given number of days per week, combined with less frequent (and therefore more tolerable) trips to the office to collaborate or attend team meetings.

future of work

How does the World Economic Forum promote equality in the workplace?

Talented and valuable stakeholders may not be like you or your peers, and the Forum works with partners to accept that fact.

The World Economic Forum’s platform for shaping the future of the new economy and society focuses on building prosperous, inclusive and just economies and societies. It takes an integrated and holistic approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice and aims to address exclusion, bias and discrimination based on race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and all other forms of human diversity. As part of the Partnership for Racial Justice in Business initiative, the Forum works with a global coalition of organizations committed to creating equitable and just workplaces for professionals with underrepresented racial and ethnic identities.

  • Through the reskilling revolution, the Forum is preparing the global workforce with the skills needed for future-proof careers. The initiative works with more than 350 organizations to provide 1 billion people with better education, skills and economic opportunities by 2030.
  • The Forum is committed to closing gender gaps in business. Since 2006, the Forum has measured gender gaps in countries around the world in the annual Global Gender Gap Report. The Forum has helped establish accelerator groups focused on closing the economic gender gap, including in countries like Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Jordan and Kazakhstan.

https://www.weforum.org/videos/how-are-the-forum-and-partners-advancing-prosperous-inclusive-equitable-economies-and-societies

  • Together with the Valuable500, the Forum works with the world’s largest network of CEOs committed to disability inclusion. Members are already making progress towards closing the disability inclusion gap through initiatives such as increased adoption of digital accessibility best practices and disability inclusion in diversity, equity and diversity strategies. of inclusion.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.

Flexible work practices, including working from home, have been an option for many years, but have been given a big boost by the recent pandemic. The skepticism around ‘shitting away from home’ and the stigma often attached to those with alternative work patterns has largely disappeared. Managers have learned to effectively lead and coordinate remote teams. Technology has advanced and been more widely adopted, so hardware and software solutions to support flexible working have become the norm.

Companies must now focus on how to embrace these changes and take advantage of the opportunity they present to advance their DE&I strategy. The right workplace, combined with the right workplace strategy, can deliver benefits on all levels: the work-life balance sought by employees, the high levels of engagement and productivity that CEOs demand, and a diverse and equitable workforce that will drive innovation and growth that is key to true competitive advantage. When implemented appropriately, hybrid working can be a real win-win for all stakeholders.


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