As organisations try to embed hybrid working models at the same time as improve their performance on diversity and inclusion, it’s interesting to consider the extent to which one can enable the other – how hybrid working might support minoritised groups.
In a recent McKinsey study, we see that many minoritised groups share a higher-than-average predilection for hybrid working and are more likely to move to a new job for hybrid models.
It suggests the chance to work flexibly provides a benefit to those who may have faced conflict within older working models. But why is that, and how can organisations build on this?
Hybrid working allows people to fit their work around complex lives much more effectively, improving their work/life balance.
The demands of parenting and caring should be supported by the chance to work outside of specific locations – pick-ups and drop offs can far more easily be wrapped around a home-working model – and organisations should embrace it as much as possible.
While increased homeworking adds pressure on the quality of the setup at home – computers, chairs, Wi-Fi and so on – organisations could and should be able to invest to offset any problems.
In addition, the young, less well-off, and arguably those in lower socio-economic groups may benefit disproportionately by not having to regularly travel into a single place of work – saving money and time.
The rolling out of hybrid working might have democratised many normal work practices. The opportunity to ‘raise a hand’ in virtual meetings should enable participation for those who might previously have fought in vain for airtime.
Likewise, the ‘chat’ function adds space to previously time-limited situations which could well favour those who might otherwise have felt marginalised, and support those with neuro-diverse needs.
Providing organisations keep an eye on in group / out of group dynamics and the risk of new siloes developing, the chance to be heard in new ways can only improve the experience of those previously silenced.
But it is the extent to which people feel like they belong in this new world that will determine the overall sense of inclusivity.
And as hybrid work can cast a light on people’s personal circumstances that in-office only work generally does not – the chance to understand and by extension respond to needs in an empathetic way is heightened.
This combination of flexibility, democratisation and empathy is at the heart of why and how hybrid working can support inclusivity. It provides a wealth of opportunities for finding the best fit for our organisations and our people, and ultimately could point to a bright future.