March 24, 2020

Working from home aids diversity

Working from home aids diversity

With many countries around the world commencing periods of social distancing in order to slow the advance of the coronavirus, remote working is experiencing an unprecedented boom.

A new article in Fast Company looks at the benefits of remote working in the US.

Avoiding ever-increasing commute times and costs is beneficial for workers and firms. Reducing emissions from cars and trains is also good for the environment and workers’ health. But remote work can also enable companies to fish from a more diverse talent pool regarding gender, accessibility, and race.

Flexible work can help women return to work after having a baby or assist those with caring responsibilities, the majority of whom (six out of ten in 2015 in the US) are still women, to manage their time. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that in 2018 only 19% of people with self-identified disabilities were in employment. Allowing those with disabilities to work in a home environment, designed around their individual needs, removes the need for potentially complicated commutes and results in higher productivity and job satisfaction. 

Ethnic and racial diversity vary substantially between states in the US. For example, in Silicon Valley, of two million workers, the US Census Bureau calculated only 2% were black in 2018. Enabling more employees to work remotely would let companies explore new talent pools, and also let workers stay in an environment where they are happiest and most productive rather than having to relocate potentially very large distances.

Carolina Milanesi, author of the article and principal analyst at Creative Strategies and founder of The Heart of Tech, a tech consultancy focused on education and diversity, hopes that after the coronavirus crisis companies will “purposefully use remote work to foster a more diverse workforce, because remote work is good for diversity, and diversity is great for business.”

Read IZA World of Labor articles on how firms and policymakers can encourage a diverse workplace.