Sustaining and Strengthening Inclusion in Remote Environments

With lockdown #5 in full swing, and with the potential for more on the horizon, it’s important to ensure our digital working practises are as inclusive and the efforts we try to sustain in our physical workplaces.

Our Partners, McKinsey & Company, have put together seven key considerations for teams to consider that reinforce inclusive cultures when teams are remotely working. Let’s use lockdown #5 and beyond to take a leaf out of their inclusive leading playbook:

  • 1. Demonstrate empathy and vulnerability

No matter how primed we are with working from home during lockdown, it still poses a disruption to one’s everyday work and home life. Leading interactions with empathy and vulnerability encourages people to share more of themselves and importantly, to better support others at this time.

One suggestion for this is to allocate a time each week to do a physical-emotional-intellectual (PEI) check-in – where attendees can share details on how they are feeling physically, emotionally, and intellectually and remind people that it’s okay to not feel okay.

  • 2. Ask about people’s needs

Different people will be experiencing different dynamics, challenges and lifestyles during this time. Children, dependant bubble-mates, living situations — these will all vary between team members. It’s key to ask what they need at this time, versus assuming. Now’s the time to ask about what potential challenges, distractions, and changes in their lifestyle might be cropping up to change the style in which they usually work. From there, you can gather insights to better conduct your remote working styles.

  • 3. Challenge personal assumptions & adopt a learning orientation

Now’s the time to be aware of people’s different communication styles in remote working, to acknowledge what you don’t know, and ask questions before asserting.

  • 4. Build space for diverse perspectives and encourage greater participation

Harnessing the diverse perspectives of your team is a great way of enhancing performance during this time. The key to doing this, is ensuring members have equal opportunities to contribute to virtual meetings — not defaulting to observer mode. Some key ways of overcoming this could be regularly switching up call facilitators, ask everyone to answer the same question during a meeting, send an agenda with key speaking points ahead of time, and of course give credit where it’s due.

  • 5. Make time for structured remote team building and networking

Networking and team building doesn’t have to be left at the door during remote working. Setting up remote sessions dedicated to letting the team members know one another is one way of banding your team together.

  • 6. Be intentional about mentoring and developing all team members

Lockdowns are still a prime time to reinforce valuable pipelines and development for your employees. Scheduling one-on-one check-ins to assess a team members’ goals, interests and professional developments can be part of this equation. Keeping tabs on your employee’s goals and aspirations are a great way to put an internal candidate forward when a new opportunity for growth and moving up the ladder arises.

  • ​​7. Encourage team members to set individual inclusion commitments

Everyone plays a role in creating a more inclusive working environment. To encourage this, leaders can use this time to carve out space for team members to focus on fostering an inclusive behaviour or sustaining an inclusive action during remote working. These can be to do with investing in the well-being and fair treatment of others, becoming an ally, supporting others to achieve goals, leading with curiosity to seek understanding of different perspectives.


Explore McKinsey & Company’s full inclusive remote working insights HERE.