How Workplaces Can Fight Proximity Bias

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Later, a Vancouver-based social-media-management firm, operates on a hub model where employees are stationed in most major cities. The company does not have a permanent office, and most of its 230 employees—who have been almost entirely remote since the start of the pandemic—are spread across Canada, with a smaller proportion in the United States, Mexico and Europe. They are primarily concentrated in Vancouver, Toronto and London, England, but have a small number of employees stationed outside these centres.

A hub model can be detrimental to some employees. People can meet together in rented spaces in major cities meeting, which may exclude remote employees and create the potential for proximity bias—a tendency to favor coworkers who are physically closer. This could be in the form of ignoring virtual attendees in a hybrid meeting or unfairly favoring close team members in broad decision-making around promotions.

“We want to make sure people have a fair and consistent employee experience, no matter where they are,” says Robin D. Pelham, Aftermath’s chief people officer, who is based in Vancouver. Later training around the proximity bias is a key strategy. De Pelham says that educating the team about procedures and policies that reduce bias is fundamental to their work. “If you don’t understand the different types of bias that can arise during decision making, you’re not going to reduce it.”

The second is the latter’s approach to salary. The company calculates salary according to a formula that takes into account employee performance and experience along with industry standards. In this way, there is no interaction or Partiality,

As anyone who has participated in a hybrid meeting knows, it is difficult for virtual attendees to engage in conversation. The latter deploys technology to equalize the experience. When possible, leadership teams use portable meeting owls—cameras that offer a 360-degree view of a room—to create an immersive experience for virtual employees. When this is not possible, the company uses a “one person, one screen” approach, in which everyone in the meeting participates virtually, whether they are physically in the room together or not. Remote participants are intentionally solicited for feedback so that their voices can be heard.

The latter team also uses regular asynchronous communication. General updates are almost always broadcast through Slack, says de Pelham. “One of our leaders posted a video of him walking through the results of an employee survey, rather than having people in one room across multiple time zones – which can take weeks to organize.”

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