Women, minorities less likely to return to office, face ‘closeness bias’

People of color, women and working mothers are choosing more flexible work arrangements than their white, male counterparts, according to a recent study Future Forum Survey focus on knowledge workers.

In the US, white knowledge workers are spending the most time in the office by a significant margin – 17% more of the time, according to the Future Forum, an organization Slack founded in 2020. The desire for flexibility is especially strong among the survey respondents who previously did not have much information about knowledge activities.

Knowledge workers are experts with specialized knowledge in their field and “thinking” for a living; They work in a variety of jobs and fields, including software developers, medical research scientists, engineers, financial analysts, construction managers, and teachers.

“Executives are now acknowledging that there has been a shift in the last two years and they don’t know how to create equity in this new normal,” said Ella Washington, organizational psychologist and professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, said in a statement. “This is an opportunity for organizations to re-evaluate, refresh or perhaps even restart with some of their management processes, from performance reviews to diversity and inclusion.”

future forum pulse survey images 1 Pulse Futures Forum (January 25, 2022)

The Future Forum describes its mission as solving the problems of a flexible, inclusive, and connected workforce. The forum conducts research and hosts events for business executives to help them create human-centered and digital-first workplaces.

The latest Future Forum Pulse surveyed 10,737 knowledge workers in the US, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK between November 1 and January 30. The survey was conducted by a third-party vendor. does and does not target Slack employees or customers.

Among its findings:

  • 52% of women want to work remotely at least, compared with 46% of men.
  • 50% of working mothers want to work remotely most or all of the time, compared to 43% of working fathers.
  • The number of black knowledge workers who want to work from home full-time is growing, while the opposite is true for white workers.
  • White knowledge workers continue to be more interested in returning to the office full-time than employees of color.

The Future Forum survey is in line with other research. Gartner, for example, found that women and people of color were less likely to return to the office after the pandemic for a variety of reasons, including caregiver responsibilities, safety concerns, and a sense of inclusion. .

future forum impulse survey image 2 Pulse Futures Forum (January 25, 2022)

Additionally, 73% of women who were fully in place before the pandemic, but were far away, agree that their expectations for flexible working have increased. And, 51% said they feel safer since switching to remote working.

Proximity bias remains a factor in a post-pandemic world

The biggest concern for workers as companies align back-to-office plans, hybrid options, and telecommuting is the rise of “proximity bias” — grievances. equality between employees who work in the same location and employees who are far away. With underrepresented teams spending less time in the office, access to career opportunities could suffer – from confronting bosses to promotions and career mobility.

“Sadly, early indicators suggest these barriers will worsen in the hybrid world,” said Emily Strother, a senior principal in HR at Gartner. “With underrepresented employees more likely to choose remote work over in-office, their visibility to senior leadership suffers. And managers’ perception that on-site employees are more productive suggests that underrepresented talent working remotely is more susceptible to biased assessments of performance.”

Women are also concerned. In a hybrid work design – where they are more likely than men to take advantage of remote work – they may suffer from a “close leadership bias,” according to Strother. In fact, 59% of female knowledge workers think employees in the office are more productive, and 78% think employees in the office are more likely to get a promotion, according to Gartner.

Executives are taking note, with 41% now making the inequality between work-at-home and work-from-home employees their top priority when it comes to flexible work – an 8% increase from the previous quarter. , according to a survey by Future Forum.

According to Strother, educating business leaders is key to solving those problems. Leading organizations are addressing neighborhood bias in a variety of ways, she said, including:

  1. Make leaders comfortable with less visibility. It is important for managers to understand visibility is no longer an accurate indicator of employee performance. For example, if a business leader believes their team’s productivity will decrease with limited visibility, the HR department should inquire more closely about their concerns about productivity. This allows HR to determine if teams have the appropriate resources and skills to succeed in hybrid or remote environments.
  2. Rebuild employee trust in leaders and managers through better transparency of decision making. Regulators should promote transparency, especially when navigating sensitive topics such as social and political issues. HR leaders should arm managers with information about how and why decisions are made and who is in charge, so that managers can talk openly with their teams. .
  3. Strengthen team cohesion in hybrid environment by providing guidance for setting team standards, such as how they will work best together and what is expected of them. Standards make it possible to establish trust with a new team and strengthen that trust over time. Gartner research shows that teams with a high degree of intentional collaboration are 47% more likely to innovate.

According to Strother, managers are the main relationship points for employees in a hybrid world and act as communication managers, especially when it comes to organizing work, according to Strother. “To help reduce bias in a hybrid world, organizations must educate leaders about the positions in their talent lifecycle that are most at risk of exclusion,” she said. By engaging all employees equally, organizations can ensure the process is fair. “

According to Gartner, workplaces that employees consider “fair” also benefit from higher employee performance.

A Gartner ReimagineHR Employee Survey 2021 over 3,500 employees conducted in 3Q21 shows that employees who work in highly equitable environments are 26% more productive than those who don’t – and are 27% less likely to quit. .

“In today’s increasingly competitive job market, fairness and equity are key factors in attracting and retaining talent,” says Strother.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Fry Electronics Team

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