Many of us are starting to return to the workplace after a long stretch of remote work. Some of us may be very excited about this. Others may be a bit anxious. Yet we all must move forward as we reach the endemic part of the pandemic.
Something to keep in mind as we return to our worksites is how we can be inclusive of others who are returning to work. We are probably excited about seeing friends and favorite colleagues in person again. But what about people who are outside of your regular social circle? Perhaps these are people you never paid too much attention to or people who do not seem too interesting to you on the surface.
We can choose to return to a more inclusive workplace if we keep in mind that some people may be anxious to return to work, perhaps because they never felt fully accepted.
If you should decide to try to be more inclusive, I suggest keeping these tips in mind.
- It’s small gestures that count the most
Being more inclusive does not take a lot of effort. It’s as simple as greeting someone who you may have never acknowledged before. A brief greeting or warm smile can be all it takes to break the ice and help people feel more a part of the group.
- Use your skills of observation
Some people may have a hard time readjusting to the noise and activity of the office. When they have a few extra minutes, taking a walk alone or putting on headphones may be what they need to try to obtain a sense of balance and peace. Keep in mind that a key part of being inclusive is respecting and accepting people for who they are and what they need. Sometime, the most inclusive and kind thing you can do is give people the personal space they need to get through their day. So, try to be mindful of different temperaments and preferences in your quest to be more inclusive.
- Be Authentic
We all have our biases, so don’t try to hide them. If someone speaks about something on which you have a different perspective, admit it. Just be kind and respectful when you do. Listen to their perspective with an open mind and tell your perspective with the intention of enlightening instead of to disagree or judge what they said.
- Jump on board
Being inclusive is a journey; it’s not a destination. Try not to let a first encounter, or even a chance encounter, be the only one. Just like we often view travelling around the globe as a way to enlarge and enrich our world, see this as another avenue to do the same. Your world can be as big or small as you choose. Just remember to enjoy the journey.
So, if you’re excited, anxious, or a mixture of both, to return to the office, I hope you keep being inclusive in mind as we move forward together.
We live in divisive times, but I think it’s only fitting that at this critical moment, we remember that the one idea that sustains the soul of America above all others is freedom.” For that reason, we must put our differences aside, advocate for each other’s basic human rights, and become better allies. – Oprah Winfrey
By Paulette Tiggs