Never miss a thing!
4 Ways Returning to the Office Affects Your EDI Commitments

Share Now on…

May 22, 2024

As the world cautiously tiptoes back towards pre-pandemic routines, the conversation around returning to the office has sparked more than just logistical concerns. It has illuminated a nuanced challenge: the potential impact on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) commitments within organisations.

💡 68% of HR leaders are concerned about the impact of a mandatory return to the office on EDI commitments and talent attraction. 

The interviews and roundtable discussions from our research unveiled a critical reason why HR Leaders are caught between a rock and a hard place – they are in the unique position of being able to see things from a people-centric viewpoint both now and into the future.

The impact of returning to the office

Reduced Talent Pool

Remote work has opened doors to a geographically and socio-economic diverse talent, tapping into underutilised pools. A return mandate could shrink this pool, limiting access to top performers and stifling innovation.

Losing Essential Teams

Employees accustomed to flexible arrangements and a work-life balance enabled by remote work may be less inclined to stay with companies demanding office presence. This exodus could disproportionately impact women, caregivers, and those from underrepresented communities who rely on these flexibilities.

Eroding EDI Gains

Remote work has helped level the playing field, mitigating location-based and physical limitations that often disadvantage diverse groups. Reinstating an office-centric culture could resurrect old biases and power dynamics, hindering progress on inclusion efforts.

Stifled Productivity & Morale

Forced commutes, rigid schedules, and the pressures of physical proximity can negatively impact employee well-being, creativity, and ultimately, productivity. These effects may be amplified for diverse employees facing additional challenges in the office environment.

So, what can organisations do to navigate this complex landscape without sacrificing talent, progress, or employee well-being?

Is your organisation ready for the future of work?

Discover if your organisation is equipped to thrive in the future of work with our quiz.

The path forward

Prioritise Flexibility

Hybrid or remote work models can offer the best of both worlds, preserving talent access and inclusion while still fostering collaboration and team spirit.

Rethink Performance Metrics

Shift the focus from physical presence to output and results, empowering employees to work effectively regardless of location.

Use Data-Driven Decisions

Regularly assess the impact of return-to-office policies on talent metrics, productivity, and EDI indicators to adapt and course-correct as needed.

Nurture inclusive cultures

Double down on EDI initiatives, promoting awareness, combating bias, and ensuring safe spaces for all employees, whether remote or in-office.

The return to the office presents both challenges and opportunities for organisations committed to EDI. By prioritising flexibility, rethinking traditional norms and nurturing inclusive cultures, businesses can navigate this transition while safeguarding their most valuable asset—their people. 

Getting started

Dive into the full research report by downloading it for free now. 

In the report you’ll find:

  • Exclusive remote working stats
  • Direct quotes from participants
  • Solutions to remote work problems

Download the report for free.

The findings from this research have not only enriched our understanding but have directly influenced the evolution of our ‘Build EMPOWERING Leaders of Remote Teams‘ courses.

By aligning our courses with the real-world challenges identified through this research, we aim to equip leaders with the skills, strategies, and insights necessary to navigate and excel in the complex terrain of remote team leadership.

Take the first step towards creating a culture of transparency by investing in your leaders. With People Efficient’s new Building Empowering Leaders of Remote Teams courses your leaders will perfect their ability to manage and lead, so that you can help your organisation adapt to a remote working structure which takes into account both the uniqueness of each employee, and the health of the business.

We don’t open the doors often, as the courses are all sold out, but when we do, we only offer spaces to those on the waiting list (get on the waiting list here). 

To find out more, schedule a chat with our Agile HR expert, Kate Maddison-Greenwell here.