Workplaces: Lessons from the pandemic

Graphic showing a laptop computer screen with coloured squares each with a face of a person. Workplaces: lessons from the pandemic.The pandemic has shown that workplaces can be almost anywhere. People who previously experienced physical barriers to workplaces found working online from home a blessing. But that doesn’t mean employers and managers don’t have to worry about accessibility and inclusion any more. Hybrid working where some staff are onsite and others online is where there are a few problems to solve. G3ict has some workplace lessons from the pandemic to share. 

Creating an inclusive workplace  means cantering equity and accessibility in physical and virtual spaces. Platforms such as Zoom evolved quickly and now include automatic or AI captioning for meetings and webinars. That’s a good start. But there are additional things to consider in hybrid settings where some participants are online and others are in the conference room. 

Many conference rooms now include technology to accommodate hybrid meetings, but there is more to do. We need protocols around seating, placement of a sign language interpreter, captioning and the ability to use the “chat” function.  

Including people with disability

Including people with disability – and you might not know they have one – requires an approach that allows for equity and dignity. For example, a person should not have to ask for captioning to be enabled. If they have to ask they probably won’t because they don’t want to be singled out. If the captioning is clear, and AI captioning can be patchy, it’s good when sound is distorted or digitised. 

Not everyone will be viewing on a large screen, so presentation slides should allow for this. Large text with good colour contrast will ensure a higher level of readability for all. Not all vision conditions can be solved with glasses so it help people with low vision too.

Head and shoulders of James Thurston. He is wearing a light blue shirt and glasses and smiling to the camera.
James Thurston

The G3ict blog post discusses other details such as workplace furniture and products. Even fabric textures, patterns and colour contrasts can affect some people.  As the blog says:

“There is no handbook on how to create a fully accessible hybrid workplace, but engaging staff from a cross-disability perspective for ideas and product testing on both the physical and virtual side is critically important.”

“Set-backs in your plans should not be seen as failures but rather learning opportunities to move you towards a workplace that is accessible, inclusive and functional for everyone because truly hitting a “reset button” is not a singular action but a journey we must all be on together.”

James Thurston explains much more in a webinar which is one and half hours. The title is, Blueprint on Inclusive Workplaces of the Future. Key Roles and Good Practices. It’s available on YouTube or view below. It features different people relating their workplace experiences.