Each employee, whether they are working at a physical office or remotely, wants to feel part of the team, and be able to collaborate and work together with colleagues, as if they are just sitting side by side on their workstations or in a conference room.
Digital inclusion focuses on providing the same culture, conditions and opportunities to every staff member, no matter where they are working from. It means levelling the playing field for everyone, and delivering equal access to technology, resources and information required to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
Digital inclusion therefore becomes critical in a hybrid working environment, where you can have a physically dispersed workforce. It enables employees to feel connected, engaged and empowered to do their best work, wherever they are.
Achieving an inclusive culture is difficult enough when people are all working in the same office, but now there’s that added complexity of working with hybrid teams. Here are some of the challenges that would limit digital inclusion in the workplace:
Technology can be a great enabler for digital workplaces, but it can also be a barrier to digital inclusion. With people working from different locations, they don’t all have the same internet speeds and Wi-Fi capabilities. So, for remote staff, connecting to virtual meetings or conference calls may not be guaranteed or seamless. Also, not having collaboration tools like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace can create numerous issues that can impact productivity and collaboration between remote and onsite teams.
Culture based on old habits and practices
Digital inclusion won’t work without the cooperation of every staff member. Some people can have the tendency to go back to old habits and practices. They can resist the change to a digital workplace, and prefer to work in a face-to-face environment, leaving out those who are working remotely.
Lack of visibility and connection
Another barrier to digital inclusion is the lack of visibility and connection with remote employees. Business leaders can easily connect with people they physically see in the office, and be able to understand their needs and preferences. But it becomes difficult to maintain the same level of service and connection when dealing with remote workers, where there is no physical visibility.
Lack of communication
Equal access to company information is essential in achieving digital inclusion. However, this is not easily achieved. According to Igloo’s 2020 State of the Digital Workplace, nearly 60% of remote workers feel they missed out on important information because it was communicated in person.
Building an inclusive workplace can work wonders in improving employee engagement and productivity. Here are some ways your workplace can foster digital inclusion:
Conduct a quick audit.
To implement any change in the workplace, it’s important to step back and understand the current situation. Observe staff interactions (both onsite and remote) and do interviews and surveys. How do people feel about working in hybrid teams? How much collaboration is happening? Do remote workers feel disconnected?
Create an inclusive culture.
Integrate inclusivity in your core company values and then communicate those values effectively to the different teams. It’s also important that the push for digital inclusion starts from the top – so encourage leaders and managers to treat and manage everyone in the same way, no matter if they’re working in the office or remotely.
Implement inclusive communications.
This means all company information should be communicated effectively to all employees, both onsite and remote. And make sure you communicate in different ways, including email, chat and other internal communication channels.
Have the right technology.
It’s essential to implement technology that can work anywhere. This enables staff to do their best work wherever they are – including equal access to the right collaboration and productivity tools.
Make sure everyone has a voice.
Remote workers tend to feel isolated. They sometimes feel unable to participate and be heard. Especially in meetings, encourage everyone to participate and contribute. Ensure each participant has an opportunity to speak out and be respected for their ideas.