3 steps to creating an inclusive remote workplace

Bringing your whole self to work now includes showing up with your socioeconomic class as the backdrop and brings new challenges around equity and access.

video conferencing / remote work
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As a result of COVID-19, all tech workers are now working from home. This means that the mantra of “bringing your whole self to work,” a concept introduced by Mike Robbins, invariably includes a requirement to show your colleagues your most personal space of all: your home.

When I landed my first remote job two years ago, I was mentally ready for it. Exchanging the commute and hallway drama for the convenience of being home all day to accept packages and start the laundry would allow me to be more productive. For all of my emotional readiness, however, I was vastly underprepared for the physical and material requirements of working full-time at home.

After a year of trial and error and significant money spent on a basement remodel, standing desk and noise-cancelling headphones, I now have a private office with a door and a whiteboard. Luckily for me, my journey involved the benefit of money and time before COVID-19 hit. Now, with nearly every tech worker working from home, we must confront the reality that many people are now required to make visible their lack of access to home office luxuries.

Here are 3 ways leaders can level the playing field.

Respect people's space

Early in my remote-work journey, there were times I’d have meetings and absolutely no quiet place in the house to take them. In these situations, I ended up using the unfinished storage room in my basement. At the time, virtual backgrounds didn’t exist, and it was critical to our company culture to have our video on, so I would just suck it up and take the heat. As soon as I would join, someone would invariably laugh and another person would make a comment or, worse, a joke. Even though I would laugh it off — “Seriously, I’m relegated to the basement!” — it was still humiliating. I felt woefully unprofessional. Thankfully, virtual backgrounds are now a common video conferencing feature, and there are many free options for images, but it is critically important as a leader that you make it comfortable for people as they navigate this.

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