Good news! You are already working on an inclusive (re) organization

Good news! You are already working on an inclusive (re) organization

by Annelies Voogdt

A lot has changed in the field of work due to the corona crisis. Meetings can now be done in underpants and the boss's cat confiscates the keyboard. All this has a funny side, of course, but also a serious one, which may be a little underexposed. Now that working from home and immobility are suddenly the norm, we (unconsciously) find ways for a more inclusive working environment. And that is important. In this article, we will tell you where the opportunities lie for an inclusive work environment and why and how to seize it.

Business and limitations

In addition to many heartwarming initiatives to help quarantine isolated and more vulnerable people, other important developments are also underway: online education and working from home. These are not always seen as initiatives to help more vulnerable fellow humans, but they actually are. Or rather, they can become helpful initiatives. It is time for some numbers.

According to the World Health Organization, at least 15% of the world's population has disabilities.  Even before the corona crisis, RIVM charted the number of people with reduced mobility in the Netherlands. 8 to 12% of the population in every Dutch municipality is within that group.  So it is a big club. A large proportion of these people experience that it is often difficult to access the labor market. They are structurally underrepresented in education and business.  What do you find? In times when people, ideas and goods are more mobile than ever, immobility is a source of exclusion. 

From digitization to accessibility

Xandra Koster wrote in an article for OneWorld that in the Netherlands there are more than 4,000 children who have been at home for more than three months because they cannot go to school.  They are called couch potatoes or those who stay home. Ministers and education professionals have been looking for a solution for years, but online education was rarely, if ever, an option.  Christel, public speaker, HBO student Communication and wheelchair user sent more than 70 applications, but she was almost never invited.

Only 1 company liked it. Working from home was not an option and the space where the other employees were sitting was not accessible for her, but she could easily get her own place. In the warehouse. A few months later, she found a company that gave her the opportunity to work from home, which she successfully did for nearly a year.  

Some people simply cannot do anything other than what we do now en masse: working from home. Because they cannot get to work by public transport, the workplace itself is not accessible or travel costs too much energy. Fortunately, we are now all working hard on the digital path to make immobility no longer a source of exclusion. Now that we are all experiencing immobility, we are unintentionally making the office work environment more accessible due to the necessity of digital innovation. In other words, working on group immunity also involves group immobility. And strangely enough, that sets a lot of processes in motion.

Things can change

Right now we see that working from home can work well. Probably there have never been so many kitchen tables in the Netherlands turned into a desk and the first national and digital Vrijmibo became a fact on March 20.  In an NRC article, spokespersons from several large companies indicated that if the laptop is at home, many office workers can work well at home.  Meeting from behind the webcam, managing using online project management tools and working together on a document in the cloud, it's all possible.  Vergaderen vanachter de webcam, managen met behulp van online projectmanagementtools en samenwerken aan een document in de cloud, het kan allemaal.
There are also countless tips for employees and students on the internet that explain how you can work at home as productively as possible. Managers can also find a huge amount of information online about how to lead a team remotely. The range of home-work support applications will also blow your mind. The possibilities from the kitchen table seem even more diverse than in the office or in the classroom. Sometimes it takes some improvisation, but now we all show that it is indeed possible.

The cons

Naturally, working from home also has disadvantages. People simply need social contacts. If these are curtailed, it can trigger mental problems, says psychologist Nalja Edriouch.  For example, physical presence is often important to feel part of a company, social interaction with colleagues is part of this and is important for our well-being in and outside the office. But the conversation at the coffee machine and the bad office jokes of your colleagues simply disappear. That may not be the worst, but the lack of direct social contact can also compromise communication and collaboration. This can partly be solved with chat applications or scheduling a social call, but physical presence remains an important part of the work process that should not be forgotten.

Also check out our tips for online meetings!