Devan Moonsamy 

Remote working has been the order of the day as more and more people are getting comfortable with the idea of working from home. Whether it is avoiding the peak hour traffic or not needing to get out of the house to work, working remotely has received tremendous encouragement. 

Hybrid work has also gained momentum as regulations for lockdown have eased. With schools allowing kids to head back full force, the work place has also done its bit to get foot traffic. Hybrid work has allowed for both remote working days and office days. Be it working from home or from the office, as long as the work is being done the process is applauded for as a success. 

However, hybrid and remote working could be doing damage to the years of work that have been put into coping with issues around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Taking a closer look at the working situation can help us avoid popular office mistakes around DEI. 

The reality is that if we put in the right amount of effort and ensure due creativity, we would be able to offer unique opportunities to build a work environment that no matter where anyone is working from – everyone will feel like they are seen, being heard and even included.  

Let’s look at creative ways to gain hold of the opportunity to improve the DEI in office with remote and hybrid working: 

We can complement hybrid and remote working all we want but we can’t ignore the fact that for some people, not seeing an individual as often, might be seen as lack of work commitment. This is referred to as a Proximity bias. It is the tendency to look more favourably towards the people you see more often. This would definitely impact the DEI related challenges in the office whereby staff who are seen more frequently become the commended ones.

It should come as no surprise that management usually looks at those at the office as the ones putting in more work and this would imply raises or promotions. But this should not be the case. It is important to set up processes to evaluate performance of all staff members. Whether they are office or home based. Management must also be sent on training to ensure their understanding to the new work place environment that had to be implemented to keep the office going. This way one of the challenges in DEI can be addressed to prevent exclusion of anyone based on bias. 

A long-term solution with dealing with DEI is to ensure that it is the centre point of your framework. It must be echoed to all who join the work environment, especially management. It goes without saying that leaders in the workplace are the ones with the responsibility to eradicate the lack of DEI in the office. 

Another issues that might be brought about and can be an added fact under the DEI umbrella is the lack of communication around circumstances. The need to work from home to ensure relevance as an employee might outweigh the challenges an employee faces. By this we imply that a staff member might be so obliged to stay in the workspace that their only option to work from home might stress them out. Things like not having internet at home or living in a home with multiple people might make them feel discouraged from speaking about their challenges.  

It is essential that when the option to work from home is made available it should be done with the relevant resources and equipment necessary for work to take place. Have a conversation with team members who want to do this and even those who don’t. this might give you a better understanding to their circumstances and it will not make anyone feel excluded. 

At the same time health and support should be available. The fact is when people are working from, home they are hesitant to take a sick day because this might seem irrelevant as they are home. It is important to adjust policies and to explain the importance of employee well-being to ensure employees feel included. 

Ultimately, we need to change our mindset around the usual concept of work. Covid-19 has allowed us to change our working environment to benefit both employer and employee. Having an updated policy can prevent confusion and ensure management is prepared in coping with the new work world. 

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. 

The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | 083 303 9159 |

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