How employer’s Return To Office Policies Impacts DEI efforts


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It’s a fact: the pandemic has changed the way we work forever. However, many offices are now turning their backs on remote working instead focusing on employees returning to the office.

Often, leaders consider return-to-office policies as essential for the successful working of their business and cast out flexible working as being mutually exclusive to it. But these leaders are not considering diversity, equity, and inclusion. Remote working and return-to-work can exist together but leaders must create return-to-work and flexible working policies that prioritise inclusion at their core.

What does this look like? 

Designing workplaces that are accessible and inclusive to everyone. 

Understanding Diverse Needs:

RTO policies need to consider the diverse needs of employees. For instance, employees with caregiving responsibilities may face challenges in returning to a full-time in-office schedule. Flexible work arrangements and options for remote work can be integral in accommodating these diverse needs further increasing retention. By acknowledging and addressing these differences, organisations can create an environment that values each employee’s unique circumstances.

Promoting Equal Opportunities:

Inclusive RTO policies go beyond physical presence. They should encompass the overall employee experience, ensuring opportunities for professional growth and development. We should design training programs, mentorship and sponsorship initiatives, and collaboration opportunities to be inclusive and accessible, fostering a sense of belonging.

Communication and Transparency:

Transparent communication is key when implementing RTO policies. Clear communication about the rationale, the policies, the decision-making process, and the support available for employees is critical. This transparency builds trust and ensures for employees to feel valued in the decision-making process.

Addressing Potential Harm

Leaders should scrutinise RTO policies for any potential inequity. Assessing how these policies might disproportionately affect marginalised groups can help organisations proactively address and rectify any unintentional disparities. This foresight commitment to equity is a fundamental aspect of DEI efforts.

Flexibility as a Core Value:

RTO policies should embed flexibility as a core company value. This involves recognising that one size does not fit all, as no policy does. Providing options for flexible work hours, compressed workweeks, or hybrid work models can empower employees to balance their professional and personal responsibilities effectively.

Measuring and Evaluating Inclusivity:

For RTO policies to be effective in continuing DEI efforts, organisations should establish metrics. The impact of these metrics should be regularly evaluated. 

Employee feedback surveys, diversity metrics, and retention rates can provide valuable insights into the success of these policies. Additionally, it will highlight areas for improvement. In determining what areas to focus on, it will ensure accountability for an organisation’s DEI efforts. 

RTO is an opportune moment for organisations to align their policies with DEI efforts. By prioritising inclusivity at all levels of the organisation, organisations can create a workplace that is resilient. 

In 2024, the RTO should be more than a physical transition. It should be a strategic move towards building a workplace that values and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For help planning or revamping your return to work and flexible working policies , contact us at

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