How to create a more inclusive remote workforce

Person remote working
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Remote work has changed the way many people approach their jobs, seemingly forever.

The latest ONS data shows that 16% of employed adults in the UK are currently working remotely full-time, with four in ten working from home part-time. But while this has been a win-win for employees and their employers, many companies have yet to incorporate effective guidelines around remote and hybrid work, which can impact a business' culture, productivity, and bottom line.

The good news is you don't need to overhaul your entire organisation to accommodate remote workers. Here are a few simple tips for improving processes for your remote team to create a more inclusive and equitable digital workplace.

Natasha Wallace

Natasha Wallace is International People Partner at ClickUp.

Choose tools that increase productivity

Video meetings can be a pain, especially when you're trying to brainstorm with a big group. Introverted employees might be self-conscious about speaking up, it can be tough to find times that work for everyone, and is there anything worse than a colleague who tries to take credit for everyone else's ideas? Digital whiteboards are one easy solution for all of these issues. In addition to making asynchronous collaboration possible, whiteboards replicate the feeling of being in an actual conference room and allow anyone to contribute ideas without the pressure of speaking up. For projects that don't require visualization? Try collaborative docs, which, like whiteboards, are easily shared and distributed.

Minimize your time in meetings

Nothing is more important than carving out time for deep-focus work. Shopify recently introduced a ‘no meetings’ policy, encouraging staff to cancel all recurring meetings to free up time, and has since reported the decision as being ‘transformational for the company’. To emulate this success, companies need to encourage asynchronous communication — essentially, telling your teams that they don't need to respond immediately to every notification or email. When you're working at a company that's spread out across multiple time zones, this is especially important because it empowers teams to work when they're most effective and gives employees a sense of ownership work — something we know they want. Using voice notes, which allow for added context and nuance, can also help cut down on meetings.

Prioritize public channels over direct messages

Transparency is key to the success of any business, and is also crucial for maximizing productivity. By prioritizing public channels over direct messages, everyone can learn and better understand how different individuals and teams work. But perhaps most importantly, it also increases workers' faith in their managers, which boosts engagement. Research states that 50% of workers who trust leadership are engaged at work, but if they don't, that number drops to about 8%. Similarly, 69% of people who strongly agreed that their leaders inspired a sense of optimism were engaged, as opposed to the 1% of respondents who didn't.

Clarify priorities for teams and individuals

Productivity isn't just about checking off items on a to-do list — teams must understand which tasks take priority. Ultimately, this responsibility falls to leadership. A recent study found that a manager accounts for 70% of the variance in employee engagement — but globally, just 15% of employees are engaged. Clearly, leaders need to do a better job of coaching their direct reports and giving regular feedback. In addition to improving your company's employee feedback process, eliminating information silos and consolidating work in one platform can help keep teams aligned. And if something isn't working? Change it! OKRs are meant to be dynamic.

Invest in your company culture

Especially if your company has a hybrid or remote work arrangement, it's essential to make time for everyone to come together. Consider scheduling a weekly or bi-weekly all-hands meeting so that everyone can be brought up to speed on happenings within the company and meet new hires. Semi-regularly, arrange for off-sites or on-sites so that teams can collaborate closely on strategic projects and celebrate big wins. And of course, always keep your company culture in mind when you hire. This is especially crucial for leaders; intentionally fostering a culture of belonging, connection, and communication will set your organization apart.

All too often, we focus on each individual employee, when really we should care more about how well whole teams are working together. Establishing processes for remote teams to collaborate has never been more important - for boosting productivity, improving overall culture, and ensuring our increasingly remote and hybrid workforce have the tools they need to get the job done.

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Natasha Wallace is the International People Partner at ClickUp, where she manages HR, benefits, employee development, and more.