Smart Working Drives Inclusion. Presenteeism Drives Exclusion.

The impact of remote and hybrid working models on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts is undeniable. These models have created opportunities for individuals who would have faced barriers to traditional office-based work. For example, those with disabilities, carers, parent and those who live in remote areas have benefitted. Even roles that have to be done face to face can benefit from flexible hours or contracts.

By enabling greater flexibility, many organisations have allowed for more diverse talent to enter or re-enter the UK workforce.

That’s brilliant – But what about organisations that do not offer remote, hybrid or smart work options? Or worse still mandate people back into the office when they don’t need to go there to do a good job – because, after all,  work happens in brains not offices.  Can these organisations genuinely say they support DEI efforts?

Is your organisation driving inclusion or exclusion?

I believe, those that stubbornly resist flexible, remote and hybrid work options are perpetuating outdated and exclusionary practices. They are ultimately hindering diversity and progress in the UK workplace.

By clinging to outdated norms and failing to adapt to the evolving needs of employees, these organisations risk alienating valuable talent and stifling innovation. They are ultimately hindering diversity and progress in the UK workplace.

Their unwillingness to embrace flexible work arrangements sends a clear message that they prioritise tradition over inclusivity and employee well-being, ultimately harming their reputation and ability to attract and retain top talent in an increasingly competitive market.

It’s time for government, companies and leaders to evaluate their practices and consider how we as a nation can become more inclusive – and that means revisiting flexibility as a basic human requirement.