On March 16th 2020 the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson started giving the nation daily updates urging its citizens to work from home as part of the COVID-19 response.
Even before that date, over in the City of London, many firms had introduced working from home for a large proportion of their workers, expecting that they would soon no longer be able to travel to site. Therefore, throughout March 2020, as part of the COVID-19 response, financial and professional services firms made the transition from physical workspaces to virtual ones, with limited or no planning time. Soon, save for those people nominated as key workers, such as certain traders and salespersons, the majority of employees from the City of London were working at home.
In order to understand the obstacles that stand in the way of virtual inclusion for the City of London’s workers, Dr Grace Lordan, Director of The Inclusion Initiative, at the LSE went on a virtual listening tour engaging 35 of its most senior leaders who work in financial and professional services in the City of London.
The aim was to identify their perceived obstacles to enhancing virtual inclusion in their firm during the COVID-19 response. Ten major obstacles were identified, each with a set of three independent actions that can be easily pursued to enhance virtual inclusion in the firm, with a view to benefiting business outcomes now.
The Ten Obstacles are:
- Physical distance can lead to psychological distance
- Presenteeism may be replaced by virtual presenteeism
- Virtual group think
- Unfamiliar context
- Work is now home
- Maintaining motivation
- Beware of illusory correlation
- Re-start with inclusion
We’re publishing this report in retrospect and wonder how many of the actions have been implemented.