Working Remotely

Working remotely.

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Job seekers are re-examining what they are looking for at work, and one big shift they are adamant about is keeping the flexibility they enjoyed during the Pandemic. This creates new challenges for businesses who are still experimenting with a mix of in-person, hybrid, and remote work and trying to ensure that their hybrid environments are equitable. Executives, business leaders, and hybrid and remote staff are concerned aboutproximity bias when it comes to post-pandemic work because employees are having difficulty navigating the new dynamics of hybrid workplace.

Why are managers and executives paying more attention to people who are at the office, rather than those who are working from home, and can we expect them to change this habit as more staff demand flexibility in where they work? In order to get a better sense of how proximity bias is impacting the overall workforce, I spoke with Nichole Viviani, chief people & marketing officer at Xplor Technologies, a global technology company offering software, payments, and commerce technologies to help small businesses in various sectors succeed.

While at Xplor Technologies, she had a track record of enabling inclusive, high-performing teams and a winning culture, and she has a wealth of experience in global high growth environments. We looked at some of the most recent data from Prosper Insights and Analytics, which looked at the preferences of U.S. workers and job seekers.

Why isproximity bias a top concern for executives when it comes to hybrid work?

According to a recent survey, 42% of U.S. adults would prefer to work for a company that allows them to work from home rather than in the office. This includes half of Gen-Z, half of the younger generation and half of the older ones. Many companies have created hybrid policies that allow their employees to work as much or as little as they want. What will the day-to-day be like for employees who choose to work from home when people start collaborating in person again?

Prosper - Prefer To Work For A Company That Allows You To Work From Home

You should prefer to work for a company that allows you to work from home.

Prosper Insights & Analytics

There are differences in work between in-person and hybrid employees. Because they are less visible, hybrid and remote employees feel like their career trajectory lags behind. In a meeting where some attend in person and others join remotely, those on screen feel disconnected and left out.

The way that executives challenge proximity bias will be critical in retaining talent in the post-pandemic world as hybrid and remote work are now a part of work life.

How might proximity bias affect underrepresented workers?

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Employees who have historically been underrepresented in skilled roles could be hurt by proximity bias. According to research, women are less likely to return to the office because of their responsibilities, and they are opting for flexible work more than their male peers.

With underrepresented groups spending less time in the office, their access to professional opportunities could suffer if managers take the approach of out of sight, out of mind Some managers think that on-site employees are more productive, but what data are they using to measure it? underrepresented talent working remotely could suffer from biased, unfair, and incorrect perceptions if companies don’t challenge this perception.

How can executives challenge and minimize proximity bias for permanently remote employees when they ask them to return to work?

Executives can challenge proximity bias by leading from the front and by emphasizing the need for managers and teams to maintain connections with all permanently remote employees within the organization. Strong productivity management and goal setting are important.

At Xplor Technologies, we have learned that it is possible to work remotely and have fun. Managers are given tools to build team engagement and connection remotely. We found Workplace by Meta to be very successful in engaging a global hybrid workforce. Everyone has access and alongside receiving company and team news, the platform allows employees to share updates in real-time or pre-record video so people can watch when they want. It has become a social hub and a place to share company news. Two of our most popular groups are Dogs@Xplor and EspressoMartini & Tiramisu, where people share photos and connect over shared interests. Out of 2,100 employees, Workplace helps us engineer more connections across the globe.

To reduce proximity bias, executives need to ask: what tools do hybrid and remote employees need, and what technology and manager training is required? These solutions can be used for the company to fill training gaps.

What are the biggest challenges faced by executives when it comes to creating an inclusive culture and workplace?

It was easier to connect with employees in the pre-pandemic era because many of them were working in an office for four to five days a week. When a growing number of their workforce prefer to remain remote or hybrid, companies are trying to ease people back into offices. unconscious bias in hiring, strategy, product, and customer decisions is one of the challenges executives face in creating an inclusive workplace.

At Xplor, we believe in inclusion and have begun unconscious bias training, overhauled hiring processes, and been intentional about creating connection in a virtual-first environment. We made this happen so that all Xplorers can connect and work with people they may not otherwise meet, building a sense of belonging and community even if they have never been to an office.

People’s priorities have changed after the Pandemic. It is no longer enough for people to make ends meet. What are people looking for?

Employees continue to prioritize company culture along with flexibility in where they work over the size of a paycheck and that is not going to change any time soon.

According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, U.S. adults said being allowed to work from home provides a better work/life balance and ability to save more money. Knowing our employees trust and see that their company supports them in how and where they work is a key to driving ongoing loyalty and engagement. Companies who let their teams work in ways that suit them best see higher retention rates.

Prosper - Better Work/Life Balance

Better work and life balance is called Prosper.

Prosper Insights & Analytics

Most employees want a sense of purpose for the work they do, and companies have to recognize that. People need to know their work has value, and feel connected to a higher purpose.

Most employees want a sense of purpose for the work they do, and companies have to recognize that. People need to know their work has value, and feel connected to a higher purpose.

We want our employees to feel like they are part of something larger. We recently gave every Xplorer a personalized metallic business card, with the job title founder, to represent their individual role in shaping our company and delivering on our purpose “to help people succeed.” Having a strong ownership mindset is part of our culture and we encourage everyone to act like a founder.

We help owners of small and medium-sized businesses spend more time doing what they love, by giving them cloud-based, intuitive technology to manage all the hassles of running and growing a business. Many of our employees were once small business owners themselves, so we know the pain points our customers face day-to-day, and take immense pride in making things simpler for them by reducing admin and overhead.

One way we help employees to be a part of something bigger is through our giveback days, where we give every Xplorer three days of paid leave a year to volunteer in their local community.

40% of U.S. adults rate their happiness level on their work life as neutral rather than happy, according to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey. Businesses need to connect their employees to a greater sense of purpose so they can feel happy and fulfilled in their work life.

Prosper - Happiness Level With Work Life

Prosper is a happy level with work life.

Prosper Insights & Analytics

Nichole, thanks for your advice on how to engage and support employees in the post-pandemic world of work. We will keep an eye on proximity bias as the workplace continues to evolve.