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Steps to Avoid Remote Bias in a Post-COVID World

Close up low angle view of a man working from home on a laptop computer sitting at a desk surfing the internet-2On the 11th of March WHO announced the outbreak of the disease caused by the new coronavirus to be a pandemic. The lockdown and self-isolation have changed the course of the lives of all humanity. This cliché phrase has taken roots in our minds. Businesses lost millions of dollars, some people lost jobs, and some had to fill up the line of remote workers. Obviously, for some, things will be back to normal fast when it comes to working while others may fight the consequences for years.


The Problem in a Nutshell

At Gartner research firm, they found the following statistics data. 82% of company leaders surveyed say their organizations plan to permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 47% of corporation leaders say they intend to allow employees to work remotely full-time going forward. For some organizations, flex time will be the new norm as 43% of survey respondents reported they will grant employees flex days, while 42% will provide flex hours. One thing has become clear: corporations seriously intend to implement flexible hours side by side with a 9 to 5 schedule. Thus, it’s essential to take a detailed look at risks and challenges imposed by remote work and discuss the ways of how to mitigate them.

The main challenge that I’ve been thinking about is tons of bias. A remote worker is often thought of as being less dedicated, less hardworking, and less productive than one present at work at least 40 hours a week. As some people’s perception of remote work has shifted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, even the most serious lawyer is considered less formal when wearing pajama trousers and having to deal with a cat deciding to have a nap on a keyboard. However, when feeling in the same environment even with a company’s top managers, employees feel free to speak up and share honest feedback. Most leaders, unfortunately, are still dubious of giving certain autonomy to anyone rather than themselves. This remote bias is much different from historical workplace prejudices rooted in gender, racial, or ethnic inequalities.


Steps to Avoid Bias in a post-covid world


Step 1. Raise Awareness

The fact that you don’t admit the problem doesn’t eliminate its existence. Awareness is the first step in fighting the bias. Speak openly to your employees about the prejudices you have about them working from home. Simply naming your fears will remove their powers to negatively affect the results of your team.


Step 2. Build a Supportive Community

If you’re afraid of losing control over your employees when letting them work from home, then give them instant access to proper support. Every member of your team works for the welfare of the same company so creating communication channels is vital for the further successful operation of your business from the inside and outside. Besides, this will help you minimize the sense of distance between your team.


Step 3. Organize Meaningful Meetings

These can be made both via ZOOM or in person. Set clear goals ahead and stick to them. This will ensure that every meeting will accomplish its purpose and you won’t waste time for empty talks. Your on agenda list should also include time for every worker to contribute, showcase tasks performed, and ask questions regarding controversial tasks. Good meeting hygiene is extremely important, especially when remote workers are present.


Step 4. Set Clear Guidelines for Communication and Meeting Deadlines

Have a one-on-one discussion with all team members about when and where they will work, what support they need, and what tasks they think they can master in the current environment. Find out if their workplace is equipped with all the necessary equipment.


Step 5. Predict Technical Bugs

My great desire is to bring online conferences to a completely new level. This does not only cover the productivity but the technical part. Warn all your employees about the accurate date and time of your meeting, choose a platform with minimum bugs, and ask everyone to have a stable internet connection. A few seconds lags between speaking and hearing should be a thing of the past. Leaders that are savvy to their time and culture and the impact the two have on productivity are willing to provide employees new tools ranging from state-of-the-art communications software to work management platforms to help people communicate and despite the distance, stay connected to their teams and showcase their contributions.


Step 6. Be Fair in Promotions and Bonuses

Do not allow your bias to affect the outcome of your appointments, promotions, or bonuses. Don’t give all credits to team members who are closest to you just because they’re present in the office. Think soberly and fairly assess what all of your team members are capable of, their other responsibilities, and the outcomes of their work no matter if you meet them face-to-face every day or only watch their faces on the screen.


Step 7. Give Your Employees an Opportunity for Self-Education and Further Growth

Provide your team with the opportunity for further professional growth and learning. Give employees time to watch online lessons and develop their creativity. Don’t be ashamed of admitting your mistakes. Working in today’s environment creates various problems that can damage the effectiveness of your team. No matter the circumstances, everyone deserves a chance to stand out. Let each of your employees express themselves.


Final Thoughts

The Coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the approach to remote work. More and more corporations are seriously intended to implement remote labor even as a norm in the post-pandemic period. This fact evokes lots of bias, though. By following these 7 steps, you will get rid of any doubts and prejudice towards employees working at home. I also hope that these pieces of advice will help you create an effective and productive work community.


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About the Author: Karl Murphy is a professional journalist from Des Moines, Iowa. After obtaining his Master's degree, he's launched his career and over its course, Karl was contributing to the popular publications for men. He's passionate about eSports, so now he develops his blog

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