Return to Office Policies Impact DEI Efforts

8 months ago by Arlene Robertson
Return To Work Impact On Dei Arlene 1023

We recently had the privilege of a virtual chat with Jo Major from Diversity in Recruitment. Jo came along to one of our ‘Honest Conversations’ series to share her insight and some eye-opening stats relating to the challenges that ‘return to office’ policies are having on candidates (particularly those who may already face barriers to work).

We talked about who is most impacted by these changes – no surprise that it is typically women and those from under-represented or marginalised communities – and questioned how rigid, unclear or misleading “return to work” policies can undermine companies DEI stance and strategy.

For me, this provided the opportunity to reflect on my own situation and on the many conversations I have had recently with candidates, contractors and clients who are navigating this tricky balance of work/life demands, policy, business needs, equality considerations and wellbeing.

Some are keen to get back to the office and others view a return to the office unnecessary and some see it as impossible.

From a client point of view, there are also challenges: how do you track compliance with new onsite policy? How do you manage current employees/contractors who cannot meet new policy requirements? How do you manage desk space allocation?! Are you tracking the implications of this change on under-represented or marginalised communities? Has your DEI team been consulted with on the terms of the policy or tracking it’s impacts on current community or future hires?

Personally, I am more productive at home and not having to commute makes life with kids far more manageable, but I do see the benefit in seeing colleagues face to face both from a team building and personal and team development point of view. At the moment, I try to consistently be in for 1 day a week and I increase this when being there in-person makes sense for the tasks I am doing or when I think I would benefit from a change of scenery. Having a hybrid model that is also flexible means that I am trusted to make the call on where I will be most productive on any given day, to balance that with the overall needs of the team and to communicate what I am doing. To me the key word there is flexible and that is what seems to be missing in a lot of hybrid models I am hearing about in the market.

Is your company doing this well? I would love to hear what your company does to make hybrid working work for you and them!

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