We are delighted to share a guest blog written by Kate Dean who is a Director at Enable Disability & Inclusion Consultants. Below Kate share’s her thoughts and tips on how to remain inclusive whilst managing a remote team.

Kitchen and dining tables across the land have been resurrected as thriving mini-eco systems of the business world this year. With restrictions set to continue into the New Year, take the opportunity to review your home working set ups for you and your team members. Taking necessary steps now, reduces future risk, ensures compliance with legal duties, but also enables your team members to work to their strengths and optimum performance, which is critical for business continuity. Here are some top tips to help you remain inclusive whilst managing a remote team:

Look, listen and hear!  

19% of the working age population in the UK have a disability or long-term condition. However, your team members may not have shared this with you. Listen out for team members telling you about long term back conditions, neck conditions, repetitive strains (RSI), anxiety or depression. They may have experienced these for some time, but only recently mentioned it.

Have any of your team members had absences for fluctuations in conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), arthritis or had a seizure? All of these things may be defined as disabilities under the Equality Act and trigger the legal duty for you as an employer to make reasonable adjustments.

Seek advice! 

You might not have worked with someone with a long-term condition before, and do not know what adjustments to make. That is okay. You only know what you know and have experience of what you have experienced. Asking someone about personal information can be daunting and deciding what action to take, even more so.

Referring a team member to Occupational Health may determine whether someone is fit to undertake their role. However, a Workplace Assessment will explore with the individual the impact of their condition on their day to day tasks and activities, their current environment, and recommend a range of tools and strategies to enable them to work to their strengths. Solutions can often be straightforward, free or low cost but impactful.

Be proactive! 

Regularly ask your team if they are comfortable in their (probably makeshift) home working environment. Arrange Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessments or ergonomic assessments if needed.

Team members may have found new, more productive ways of working from home as they can better concentrate or extend their days to allow a rest period. They may be able to try the multiple free and inbuilt online tools to help. For example, mind mapping ideas, hearing information rather than reading it, or dictating responses to emails or when drafting reports. All the productivity tools that people may have felt too self-conscious to use in the workplace.

If conducting meetings online, explore the use of free inbuilt captioning tools which create subtitles on the screen. However, be mindful that if you have a member of your team who is D/deaf or hard of hearing, these captions are not accurate or consistent enough to replace a human captioner or interpreter.

Reviewing and redefining models of working has been a necessity for all in 2020. This has presented an opportunity for some to find their preferred and best way of working. Harnessing the strengths of everyone in this way gives your business the best opportunity to thrive and removes barriers to high performance through meaningful inclusion.

Enable Disability & Inclusion Consultants

Enable Disability & Inclusion Consultants offer end to end solution focused support for businesses, from identification of needs through to implementation of equipment and support. Working with a range of partners to seamlessly source, delivery and install equipment, along with offering training and consultancy to remove barriers to high performance through meaningful inclusion.

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