Changes in the workplace have accelerated, particularly regarding remote work and diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) awareness and initiatives. To better understand these changes and their implications, we reached out to two alumnae for insights: Brie Reynolds, AS’04, a Career Development Manager at FlexJobs and Karina Barreto, DMSB’94, MBA’05, an experienced diversity, equity and inclusion leader.
Job Search Advice
For remote or hybrid positions, Brie suggests noting remote work on your resume and being prepared to talk about what made you productive and successful while working remotely. In interviews, emphasize your interest in the role, rather than focus on the flexible work arrangement, but be sure to ask about the company’s onboarding process for remote staff to assess how you will be supported.
Don’t ask a lot of detailed questions on remote work until you have an offer and don’t assume you have the same definition of “remote”; find out what it means to that organization. If you want to get a sense of the company’s approach to assess whether to continue the interview process, ask broader questions about how the pandemic affected invididual and team workflows and the company’s work/life balance practices.
Conduct research about the company to get insight into their approach. Glassdoor has a “work from home” search filter. The “press” section of an employer’s web site, or their social media, can provide useful information.
At FlexJobs, new remote workers are paired with a “buddy” from a different team who acts as sounding board for new hires to ask questions they may not want to ask a manager. Buddies typically meet once or twice a week for the first four weeks and then transition to Slack interactions. An alternative to this buddy approach is to ask your manager, “who can I go to when I have more basic staff-related questions?”
While negotiating an offer, if remote work is not an option, consider discussing flexibility in your work schedule. Current employees who would like to discuss working remotely with their manager should focus on what the employer values; emphasize aspects related to productivity and results rather than personal needs. Brie says it’s worth making an ask for remote work to see what’s possible with your employer, rather than looking for a new job without discussing it.
For more in-depth remote workplace resources, articles, job postings and more, go to FlexJobs.
The remote and hybrid workplace can be challenging for managers, because they can’t see remote employees at their desks, and therefore may not know how employees are doing. According to Brie, proactive communication makes a difference. She recommends that managers ask staff regularly about challenges they are facing and ask “how can I help?”
Lastly, Karina notes that managers and organizations should be aware of potential “proximity bias” in hybrid work environments. Those who spend time in the office versus remote, may receive preferential treatment due to more frequent contact with leadership, being present at high-level meetings, and having more visibility across the workplace.
A tremendous benefit of the trend towards remote work, according to Karina, is the increase in the diversity of the talent pool, given the ability to hire employees from many locations. Previous location boundaries have decreased and the visibility of global offices have increased, as more global staff locations were included in virtual meetings and companies held all-employee sessions.
In addition, increased organizational efforts to address DEI requires managers to develop new skills. Managers may need more training as they find themselves in conversations with employees about diversity issues within the organizaftion as well the impact of racial issues in the news. She advises managers to be open to acknowledging the impact of social and cultural issues on the workplace and the potential impacts on staff. Respect, listening, and empathy are increasingly important components of a healthy and successful work environment.
Michele Rapp is Associate Director of Alumni Career Strategy at Alumni Relations.