Proximity bias a threat to remote working 

by AUFA MARDHIAH / pic by BLOOMBERG

REMOTE working has proven beneficial as it allowed many companies to continue operating throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, as many countries shift to endemicity, this has given rise to proximity bias where those who work in the office were seen to be more favoured.

Hays CEO Alistair Cox said one of the many dangers that proximity bias brings is the subconscious exclusion of people from having the opportunity to work on big projects generated from the centre or working on a major new client account.

However, hybrid working can prevent employees working remotely from feeling excluded; especially for employees living with a disability and informal caregivers. 

“If you are showing favourable treatment to workers in the office, you can cause a negative impact on your workforce diversity.

“Action speaks louder than words and people look to their leaders’ own approach to interpret what is really valued. Coming in and working from home from time to time shows them that you trust and value their input,” he said in a statement today.

Additionally, employers should hold an inclusive virtual meeting for both employees in the office as well as working remotely.

“That means everyone is on a level playing field. If that’s not possible, be aware of how inclusive you are of the whole group. 

“Make sure critical decisions are not being made in one meeting. If an idea comes to light between you and others who are in the office that day, arrange a follow-up with all of those working remotely,” he added.

Furthermore, Cox also suggested that organisations invest in updated technology to facilitate a more inclusive environment between those in the office and remote workers like creating technology with machine learning and AI features to improve meeting experience for employees working from home.

Meanwhile, Hays Global Head of People and Culture Sandra Henke suggested for employers to engage with employees to understand any arising issues, and to what extent.

“Make sure you have the necessary open channels of communication, so employees are able to voice their concerns or provide feedback.

“Ensure all employees, no matter where they are based, are taking part in company and team activities, so they don’t feel left out. 

“Remind your team that you are all in it together, every employee – whether they are in the office or at home – has a role to play in sustaining the company’s culture in the next era of work,” she added.