Image Source: Unsplash
We live in a world where an increasing number of folks work from home, either by choice or as a corporate requirement. It’s a great setup for many people. Still, it can be too easy for managers and business owners to forget about some team members if everyone is not coming into the office every day. It’s essential to recognize if this is the case at your company because you want to help everyone to feel included, especially if one or more of your employees has a disability and requires suitable accommodations.
You need your remote team to work as one cohesive unit, and today, we’ll tell you how to form a happy team and provide the unique support each of your employees need.
Get Started on the Right Track
Start creating an inclusive remote team as soon as possible. Doing so ensures that everyone has a voice, knows that they belong, and is empowered to do their best work. When your team works together, they’ll be happier overall, and their eagerness to assist could boost their productivity.
Begin by sending out surveys to include your entire team in a conversation about inclusion. Ask what inclusion means to them, how they think their current remote workplace can be more inclusive, and their individual needs. Management can use the feedback and put careful consideration into a formalized diversity and inclusion policy that everyone at the company will follow.
Then, practice what you preach. Hire a diverse group of qualified employees worldwide, work to remove bias from your hiring processes, and continue to audit your efforts to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Even though they all work independently, your employees will likely notice when your team is or isn’t diverse, especially during team projects and video conferences.
With your diverse team in place, you must remove any barriers that prevent those with disabilities from having equal access to, or enjoying the full benefits of, technological applications. In other words, make it so every employee can use the same tools with equal success. For example, you should ensure that your company website adheres to digital accessibility standards by following WCAG guidelines. You should also ensure that all features of your website remain operable while achieving compliance with these guidelines.
The good news is that many programs already have features that can help you achieve compliance. For instance, if you use Microsoft Word as much as many other companies, then you can check out their preinstalled accessibility options that give all writers a chance to provide readable content to their readers.
Remember that accessibility standards will be different for each type of company and the employees that work there, so find out what works best for your organization. You must set remote employees up for success and give them what they need so they don’t feel helpless at home.
Ensuring All Employees Stand on Even Ground
All diversity matters, and you want to make sure that all of your employees feel included and have full access to all of the tools and benefits that your company has to offer. It’s very important to reach out to your team regularly and provide what they need so that everyone has a chance for success.
You can do that by adding a question to the surveys that are sent out to your entire team or working with HR to learn about the potential disabilities the folks on your team might have so you can provide support. It’s always important to not make presumptions about who may or may not need accommodations. Also keep in mind that every person is unique and that you should be working to meet your employee’s requests, as opposed to making assumptions about what type of assistance they may need.
With the knowledge that some employees may have different needs, the next step is to provide the necessary resources. As an example, remote employees who are blind or have low vision may request text-to-speech software and screen readers. You will also need to do your part to make sure these tools can be effectively implemented in the workplace.
Similarly, employees who are deaf or hard of hearing can benefit from extra support during meetings and audio training sessions. These employees can be assisted with auto-captioning software and the ability to receive complete transcribed meeting notes so they can read them later at their leisure.
How Managers Can Appreciate Everyone Equally
While some employees may come forward and tell management about their disability or unique situation, not everyone will, so engaging and appreciating everyone equally is important. First, give your team multiple ways to reach out so they can share their opinion. Provide numerous communication methods: email, chat, phone calls, and instant messaging are some examples. Use whatever tech you have at your disposal that gives everyone a fair chance to reach out and provide their feedback.
You should also recognize everyone on your team equally. Just because someone didn’t lead the week in sales, it doesn’t mean that everyone on your staff doesn’t provide some positive service for which they should be rewarded. Rotate your recognition and give kudos to different employees each week. Management could also send a monthly email to thank everyone for a positive contribution in one message.
It’s also important to keep an eye on the productivity of your team so you can catch the instances when an employee may need assistance, but they’re afraid to come forward. Management can use various employee monitoring technologies regularly, to track current productivity levels and also see areas where workflow can be improved. You can use these tools to see if and why an employee is falling behind and then reach out to them positively to assist. To avoid unnecessary legal issues down the road, it may be a wise idea to inform the team that this type of tech is being used at your company.
Finally, ensure that everyone on the team is protected from the possibility of cybercrime so that no single person feels that a disability puts them in more danger. Train every employee properly, remembering that some may need extra support or technical assistance.
It’s essential that you allow all employees to work from the same playing field, especially when your team works remotely, and management can’t monitor them in person. If inclusivity isn’t in your playbook, make it your next priority.