Overcoming Unconscious Bias in Remote Teams
The shift to remote and hybrid working has come with the challenge of visibility for some teams—specifically, those in remote working situations in a hybrid company.
Proximity bias is an issue plaguing companies and businesses where managers and senior offices treat physically closer employees more favorably. It often occurs because in-office employees can get more done and have fewer distractions than remote employees.
A survey revealed that supervisors find remote workers more replaceable and often forget them when delegating tasks. The unconscious bias strains the organization– it could harm the bottom line and company culture, undermine DEI efforts and lead to lower employee retention rates.
Managers must learn to overcome implicit bias and develop a better view of remote work. The information below explains how to do it. But first:
Strategies For Overcoming Unconscious Bias
There are multiple strategies employers can apply to help overcome unconscious bias. They include the following:
Off-Site Work For Executives
Companies have to erase the idea that there is power in offices by ensuring senior management works remotely.
Letting senior management work off-site most of the time eliminates more face time with in-office employees, thus reducing favoritism from consistent in-person interactions.
It levels the playing field for employee engagement. Letting senior management work remotely also helps managers understand remote workers’ challenges.
Awareness and Training For Managers and Employees
Spreading and maintaining awareness is an excellent way to challenge remote bias. Managers and in-office workers must be consistently reminded that they have cognitive biases that could apply to remote teams. They must remember that remote teams often feel left out and should be included as they are valued team members.
Bias training is a necessary endeavour for a hybrid workplace. It can help managers understand remote workers, discover their biases, and form strategies to overcome them. Managers must learn how to support remote teams and make them feel included in team activities and discussions.
Remote workers can feel secluded during team meetings when everyone else is gathered at the office, and they join in through video conferencing.
As such, managers should foster an inclusive work environment where everyone is on the same level. For example, the manager can set up meetings where every team member should join via webcam.
In addition, managers should appoint team meeting facilitators to ensure all employees have a chance to speak. The goal is a uniform experience.
Hire A Head Of Remote Operations
Some companies adopting hybrid workplaces are appointing a head of remote operations. A head of operations advocates for the remote workers’ needs. They ensure remote workers can access the same opportunities and tasks as in-office employees. In addition, the head of operations ensures remote workers receive corresponding benefits and are involved in company decision-making.
Bump Into Remote Workers
One of the benefits onsite workers enjoy that foster a bias among managers and senior members is the ease of chit-chat. Workers meet in the office during breaks or at communal places and talk about things other than work. It helps form relationships but can, unfortunately, leave remote teams out.
Therefore, managers must set up video conferences where workers can chat about anything besides work. These agenda-free meetings allow remote workers to interact informally with seniors and others.
Other Ways To Mitigate Unconscious Bias
Use measurable results to evaluate employee performance.
Onsite workers can score more points during performance evaluations because they have the advantage of spending lots of hours in the office and showing soft skills that would be impossible to see from remote workers.
Companies should instead establish objectives for each employee and then base performance reviews on the achievement of said objectives. Companies should evaluate employees not just on their presence in the office but on the impact they make.
Use tools to assign and track assignments.
Managers can eliminate the bias of work assignments by using a shared tool to assign and assess assignments. By assigning work publicly, managers ensure no bias against remote teams in the type of assignments and even consistency.
In addition, managers can ease their bias for underproductivity among remote teams by using the same platform to track assignments. Workpay has a time and attendance product that managers can utilize. In addition, streamlined communications with both teams on a shared messaging network such as Slack can improve this process.
Give everyone flexible work schedules.
Leaders in the workplace can minimize distance bias by offering all employees personalization. Giving employees the freedom to personalize their schedules will help prevent distance bias. Managers will be able to develop a less negative view of hybrid working once in-office employees create flexible schedules that allow them to be out of the office.
Establish hiring, promotion, and compensation criteria.
Hiring, promotion, and even compensation can have some bias against remote teams. Onsite employees can always be on HR or senior managers’ radar.
They take the initiative to be noticed, often leading to promotion and better compensation. Similarly, managers could establish favoritism for hires who are willing to work in the office rather than remotely.
Therefore, human resources should develop company-followed criteria for hiring, promoting, and compensating employees regardless of physical presence.
Benefits Of Remote Teams
Teams working outside the physical office have much to offer. They provide the company with benefits such as:
- Time zones can be an advantage. Having teams working from various time zones can be an advantage when meeting deadlines in collaborative projects. Teams can maximize the project timelines and deliver in good time. It also improves teamwork.
- Saving money. Virtual teams can save costs for renting office space and similar costs. Companies can save money in the long run, even when offering personalized benefits to remote teams, such as Wi-Fi.
- Improving productivity. Remote workers can create a conducive work environment for themselves. In addition, they can choose the best times to get work done since they do not have to be in the office at specific hours. Therefore, remote working can improve productivity.
- Word-wide talents. Remote work opens the company to talent from across the globe. Companies can get the best employees with valuable skills working towards their goals.
Workpay EoR helps global organizations to manage their remote teams easily.
Contact Workpay to learn more about our products and services designed to make remote and hybrid work more manageable and less biased.