Remote Work: An Almost Effortless Way to Attract More Diverse Talent

During Lever’s 2017 Talent Innovation Summit, Matt Charney shared that 79 percent of people said flexible working was a top priority. Remote work is one such flexible work arrangement that will surely appeal to candidates—while also helping you build a more diverse talent pipeline. What’s more, most organizations with modern technology are already equipped to allow remote work. If you’re currently offering remote work opportunities, let it be known. If not, here’s what you could have to gain:

Fish in a bigger pond

First and foremost, offering full-time remote work allows organizations to recruit talent from anywhere in the world. This helps you proactively source candidates from underrepresented groups, without the constraint of physical location. Being able to offer remote work to people from different areas means that you can build a diverse pipeline, even if your office isn’t in a particularly diverse area. As an example, Matt also pointed out that only 2.2 percent of Silicon Valley tech workers are Black, compared with 17.1 percent in the D.C. metropolitan area. Different areas will each have unique demographics, and you can build a more diverse talent pipeline when you are considering remote workers that may be anywhere.

Entice women with children back to the labor force

The labor force participation rate for women with children under age 18 was 70.5 percent in 2016, compared with 92.8 percent for men. Women with children under six years old had even lower labor force participation, at 64.7 percent overall, and 58.6 percent if the child was under one year old. Remote work may entice some of these women to stay in, or return to, the labor force.

The average commute time is 26 minutes each way, and more than 45 minutes for 17 percent of workers—on top of the average 8.56 hour work day. Eliminating or reducing the time spent traveling to and from the office gives everyone—working parents and non-parents alike—more time in their day for other activities. However, women tend to spend more time on household activities and caring for others, and less time on leisure activities, than men—even when employed full-time. Therefore, an hour or more saved on commuting each day may be more impactful for women, and give them a better work-life balance. Remote work, particularly when paired with part-time schedules, flex hours, and other parent-friendly benefits, can you help you attract more women with children.

Reduce workplace challenges for disabled individuals

While employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, some disabled professionals may benefit from remote work.

First, their disability may make it more difficult for them to commute to your office. For example, someone who is wheelchair-bound can have difficulties finding an accessible route. Second, your office’s “reasonable accommodations” may not be as comfortable as the accomodations in their work environment at home. Someone with a long-term disability may have invested in top-of-the-line assistive technology at home, or adapted their space to better accommodate their disability, and working in an office setting just wouldn’t match up. Third, an individual with a disability may be self-conscious about it—particularly if their disability is new, or if they’ve faced discrimination in the workplace before. 

Some or all of these reasons may be why disable professionals are more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. Remote work can be a huge selling point for disabled individuals, and take away some of the common workplace challenges so they can shine. Keep in mind, however, that disabilities come in many shapes and forms. Some people may need additional accommodations, such as flexible scheduling to make doctor’s appointments, while others may not require any additional accommodations at all.

Transition retirees slowly

More than half of workers say they plan to retire after the age of 65. Furthermore, 79 percent plan to work for pay in retirement, primarily because they want to stay active and involved, and they enjoy working. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want traditional employment.

People who are 65 years or older are almost twice as likely to telecommute to work than not. That’s the highest rate of telecommuting among all age groups. Remote work allows seniors to gradually transition into retirement, so they can still participate in the workforce without physically going into an office each day. For some, this is simply a way to scale back. For others, it’s a necessity to eliminate physical challenges from aging. 

To attract seniors, and retain them for as long as they’d like to remain in the workforce, offer them a gradual transition to retirement—including remote work options.

Final thoughts

If you already offer remote work options, make it known throughout your relevant recruitment materials. If not, it may be worth a conversation internally. Remote work doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing proposition, and each company can structure it in a way that makes the most sense for them. For instance, it may apply only to certain departments or positions, and it may be full-time, part-time, or as-needed. When 80-90 percent of workers said they’d like to work remotely at least part-time, this perk will help you attract top-tier talent—especially among the underrepresented groups that would benefit from it most.