August Livestream Follow-Up: Inclusive “Return-to-Work” Strategies

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The Darkest Horse continues its monthly YouTube Livestream! Each month, TDH brings a timely topic to discuss, dissect, and engage with! In July, the team hosted a discussion on “Nation, Citizenship, and Place” with TDH Co-founder Chanté Martinez Thurmond, TDH teammate fahad punjawni, and TDH collaborator Hanna Kim. 

For August, we hosted a conversation to explore “Inclusive Return to Work Strategies”, and how to make them inclusive in a mid-COVID reality. Alternatively, you can listen to the audio on our podcast, or read the transcript of our conversation!

If this topic resonates with you, and you’d like to create a DEI-minded return to work strategy, we invite you to reach out and learn more about TDH’s strategic road-mapping sessions! 

We hope you’ll join our September livestream “Designing With vs. Designing For: Lessons in building DEIA futures” on Thursday September 30th at 1pm CT.

Our August discussion included the following contributors: 

Rada Yovovich (she/her)She identifies as a queer, cis, White, hearing impaired, woman. She was raised and educated in the United States, and she resides in the unceded territories of The Council of Three Fires (colonially known as Chicago). 

Maya Toussaint (she/her) She’s a Black, cis, queer, able-bodied, woman. She was raised in Canada with Trinidadian parents, and she resides in the unceded territory of Tiohtià ke (colonially known as Montreal in Quebec, Canada). 

Suzi Lilley (she/her)She’s a White, cis, heterosexual, able-bodied, woman. She is originally from the UK, and she moved to the unceded territories of The Council of Three Fires (colonially known as Chicago) two years ago. 

What does “Returning to Work” bring up for you, and how do you feel about the topic? 

MT: “My organization is absolutely not going back to an office. As an extrovert, it’s a huge deal to lose those in-person moments, and it’s creating a lot of feelings. I need to fill my energy tank with human interaction, and I haven’t been able to do that. It’s been difficult.”

Engaging in wellness activities can increase productivity in workers who have been isolated from family and friends by 24%, based on research by Intuition.

What are you seeing in your organization as you’re thinking about the next phase? What emotions are you experiencing?  

SL: “As much as I want that human interaction back, what if I’m putting myself and others at risk by returning to the office? Evaluating what normal looks like again is a new level of uncertainty.”

MT: “My company is looking to hire 2,000 engineers in 2021. The benefit of a 100% remote company is that we can hire anywhere in the world; in fact, we just hired someone from Africa. It’s beautiful to see how we can open up pipelines for diversity through remote work.” 

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 6/10 employers identify real estate cost savings as a significant benefit of remote work.

What kinds of “Return To Work” solutions are you evaluating?

RY: “Instead of designing a solution for the majority, I would argue we should operate through an equity lens. We should figure out who needs the most resources and what’s the best way to get it to them.” 

PWC’s findings indicate that less experienced workers need the office the most. Employees with 0-5 years of experience feel 11% less productive than their more seasoned counterparts.

What does support look like when everyone is so exhausted? 

SL: “It’s been tricky. By inviting work into our home space (which wasn’t by choice), we’ve all experienced a heightened sense of anxiety. As a member of our people team, it’s my duty to check in on our workers. We err on the side of over-checking rather than giving too much space. People have appreciated the extra care.”

RY: “It’s critical for me to have at least one meeting where I have a moment of pause where I notice how my body feels. Especially with creative projects, it helps my team understand which pace to move at.” 

According to Intuition, 75% of U.S. workers have struggled at work due to anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent world events.

What’s one “Return To Work” Strategy That’s Been Successful or Unsuccessful. 

MT: “Rigidity doesn’t work in this climate. Company policies,  schedules, or even expectations of your friends can’t be rigid because we’re all handling this pandemic differently.” 

Flexjobs reports that 30% of workers leave a job because it did not offer flexible work options. 

Going Forward 

This Livestream is a great companion to our blog post on The Future of Work! Contact the TDH team if you’d like to revolutionize your company’s mindset with emerging technologies and institute strategies that maximize human potential!

Additional Resources 

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About the Author(s)

Rada Yovovich, MBA
Chanté Martinez Thurmond, MA, BSN, RYT-200

Co-Founders of The Darkest Horse™