How Remote Work Can Foster Inclusion and Psychological Safety
People success platform leader Glint, part of LinkedIn, has published results on workplace culture that show that remote work is creating more inclusive and psychologically safe workplace experiences. The company’s Head of EMEA People Science tells us more.
Our global pandemic-initiated shift to remote work has had many consequences, but one that isn’t called out as much as it should be is equality. In many ways, remote work has equalized opportunities for employees to be heard and seen. In a virtual work environment, every meeting looks the same, and each person takes up the same space on the screen, from the CEO to the intern.
Virtual work bolsters inclusivity
Glint has tracked a range of metrics about our changing workplace over the past year. Their latest trends report notes that employers that have committed to supporting remote work appear to be creating more inclusive and psychologically safe work experiences as a result. In companies that support remote working, workers feel freer to speak their minds and see their companies as valuing diversity.
The analysis used a number of measures to derive its conclusions, including how many remote work-permitted job postings an employer puts on LinkedIn (over 275,000 adverts were surveyed from 375 organizations). Millions of Glint survey responses from over 600 organizations were also fed into the model. The analysis shows that employees at remote work-friendly firms were 14% more likely to feel safe speaking their minds. 9% are more likely to report that their leaders value different perspectives, compared to their peers in less remote work-friendly brands.
The study shows that virtual work creates many features that can bolster employees’ feelings of inclusivity. Virtual work can provide flexibility to people with caregiving responsibilities, bypass location bias, and reduce the amount of time and energy required to conform to potentially unhelpful ‘professionalism’ standards, for instance.
As organizations re-examine how to foster diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the new world of work, early signs indicate they’d do well to build on virtual work and expand habits, programs, and tools that help people bring their authentic selves to work.
Culture in the new world of work
This matters, as the survey also highlights the fact that what team members see as defining a great work culture has changed dramatically over the first year of the Covid pandemic—50% of the top 10 drivers in 2020 were not in the top 10 in 2019. Opportunities to learn and grow have emerged as the strongest drivers of work culture, shooting up eight positions.
In the first half of 2020, employees’ sense of belonging also started to impact employee happiness, increasing by 12% to become the second most important characteristic people look for to describe a great work culture. That’s one of the ways in which work culture has changed drastically in 2020. Work culture was once shaped heavily by in-person interactions—coffee breaks, shared meals, team retreats, and the like. But when the pandemic not only stripped away physical interaction but also threatened our safety, the less tangible drivers of work culture—growth opportunities, belonging, and values—became more important to employees.
There’s also a positive uplift here for recruitment and retention, as the research shows that employees at organizations with highly rated cultures are 31% more likely to recommend working there to peers and contacts, and 15% more likely to report being happy working there.
Employees want more from their employers now than just a pay packet. They want to be challenged, and they want to work in a space where they can bring their whole selves.
By Steven Buck, Head of EMEA People Science at Glint.