Diversity and inclusion: Can we co-design our work?

A woman is sitting at a dining table typing on her laptop. When home is the workplace.Employers are experimenting with managing the changing face of work and employee feedback is of course essential. So, will universal design principles and the practice of co-design come to the fore in designing work? Perhaps. Regardless it is the way to sustain and build diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Most employees currently working in a hybrid model want it retained. A report by McKinsey found this was the case across the board. They also found that marginalised groups wanted it more than others:

    • Employees with disabilities were 11 percent more likely to prefer a hybrid work model than employees without disabilities.
    • More than 70 percent of men and women expressed strong preferences for hybrid work, but nonbinary employees were 14 percent more likely to prefer it.
    • LGBQ+ employees were 13 percent more likely to prefer hybrid work than their heterosexual peers.

However, the McKinsey report highlighted potential pitfalls:

    • Hybrid work has the potential to create an unequal playing field if not done correctly.
    • Companies need to prioritize the most critical inclusion practices: work-life support, team building, and mutual respect.
    • Marginalized groups are more likely to prefer a hybrid work model and would be more likely to leave if it was not available.

Hybrid good for inclusion

In their survey, 75 percent of all respondents said that they prefer a hybrid working model. Only 25 percent said they prefer to be full time on-site. 

“Consider, for example, the employee who may be hiding a disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation to avoid the stigma that can come with declaring it. Research shows that efforts to conceal such identities may take a toll on an employee’s well-being and performance. Ideally, employees would be comfortable sharing these identities with colleagues, and organizations would provide the inclusive environment in which they could. When they do not, however, hybrid work environments can relieve some of the strain.”

As employers navigate their way through new ways of working they shouldn’t mistake hybrid as flexibility. Some organisations were able to manage issues of isolation and mental health during the pandemic. Nevertheless, these issues remain across the business landscape, particularly for some traditionally underrepresented groups.

The title of the report is, How can hybrid work models prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion?

The article was re-published by the World Economic Forum with permission. There are links to other reports and discussion about experimenting with managing the changing face of work. Will universal design principles and the practice of co-design come to the fore in designing work? We shall see. 

The Future of the Office in Australia

Sourceable reports on the changing face of the office – the place where hybrid work is possible. The article has a real-estate focus but includes a nod to access and inclusion:

“… employers are facing rising pressure to address environmental, social, and governance issues in their offices and policies. Buildings that are inclusive and accessible for all workers have become more prominent in the industry, with popular features of new office buildings including prayer rooms and gender-neutral facilities.”