We all show up to work as more than just our professional title. This means some of us show up to work as mothers, as women, or as women of color. Some of us show up as fathers, brothers, men of color. We show up to work with our different religious and spiritual backgrounds, our sexualities, our different ages and upbringings and abilities.
Despite the diversity with which we are showing up to the table, traditional workplaces were not designed to be “one size fits all.”
A New York Times article published last week describes how most office building thermostats follow a model designed in the 1960s based off of the metabolic rates of middle-aged men. But while space heaters and cardigans can help with physical discomfort in cold offices, there are often other reasons why women and people of color feel like they don’t belong.
“The office, in other words, was one size fits some, with the expectation that everybody else would squeeze in. Office banter, for example, might have been a small annoyance for a segment of workers. But for many others, it amplified a sense that they didn’t belong. There are people of color whose colleagues wouldn’t stop asking them how to work the copy machine. There are the introverts who never wanted to chat about fantasy football leagues. There are the caretakers who used to rush out for school pickup, feeling they were failing to meet unspoken professional expectations and just barely meeting their families’ needs.”
For many professionals who found it uncomfortable to stand at the intersection of work and their various identities, or for professionals who just didn’t quite fit in with traditional workplace culture, the global shift to remote work was a relief.
“Studies of 10,000 office workers conducted last year by Future Forum, a research group backed by Slack, suggest that women and people of color were more likely to see working remotely as beneficial than their white male colleagues.”
What has your experience been with workplace culture?
How have your identities impacted your experience at work?