Remote Workers May Face Challenges in the Hybrid Office
Another change that companies like Zillow and Salesforce are making to level the playing field for remote workers is the way they organize meetings. Instead of gathering office workers in a conference room while remote workers log in, if one person is not in the physical room, everyone will log in separately on their laptop, whether or not they are in the office.
“The space is equal on the screen and everyone’s name is there,” Ms. Reibstein said.
To foster spontaneity in office interactions, Indeed is exploring technology that includes installing screens in its office kitchens that would allow remote workers to engage in informal ‘water cooler’ conversations with their colleagues ( maybe in view of a real water cooler). Small conversations in the office have been shown to foster a greater sense of belonging.
Changes like these can help reduce some bias against remote workers, but only to a point.
Take meetings in which everyone logs in from a laptop: “After the meeting is over, the three people in the office close their laptops, come out of the booths, go for coffee, go to chat in the hallway, continue on. big the meeting, ”said Dr. Bloom of Stanford. “And so you naturally have an entry group and an exit group.”
One of the most important factors that could lead to inequality between remote and office workers is proximity to business leaders, who tended to be in the office full time before the pandemic. When executives work remotely themselves, it reduces the perceived benefit of having time with decision makers in the office.
At Slack, executives have agreed not to work more than three days a week in the office, said Brian Elliott, who heads the company’s Future of Work think tank. “In terms of leading by example, they’re going to be flexible,” he said.
Prithwiraj Choudhury, a professor at Harvard Business School, conducted an experiment last summer in collaboration with a world bank whose employees were mainly working remotely due to the pandemic. He randomly assigned summer interns to video meetings with senior leaders, other interns, or no one. The number of meetings assigned to each trainee also varied randomly. Meeting with senior executives had a very strong effect on obtaining a job offer from an intern.
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