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3 Reasons Why Black Employees Prefer Remote Work

“The trends point to more marginalized employees prioritizing their mental health and career growth through workplace flexibility. Remote work looks different for everybody, and coworking spaces like Ambition Center MKE are opening to meet the growing demand for culturally safe and diverse workspaces.”

When we transitioned to remote work in 2020, we couldn’t have imagined how much permanency would come with that change. Now, with an increase in COVID vaccinations and the constant pressures of a country that’s ready to get back to “normal,” many offices and workplaces are phasing employees back to in-person work. There’s some pushback.

Out of 10,000 professionals surveyed by Future Forum in the last quarter of 2021, 79% say they want location flexibility over a return to the office.[1] Employees of color are opting out of in-person work altogether at much higher rates, and most want to make remote work their permanent option.

Working While Black in Traditional Offices

Traditional office spaces promote a work culture for employees who identify as white and male to succeed at higher rates than any other group represented in the modern workforce.

The game is designed for white men to win; this isn’t an obscure fact. It’s a truth many underrepresented employees work against time and time again, hoping for a crack in the foundation where they can slide through to rise and experience similar levels of success as their white counterparts.

With remote work and hybrid work on the rise, marginalized employees have opportunities to get bigger slices of the pie without bleeding themselves dry mentally and emotionally. So it’s no surprise that people of color and women opt-in to remote work arrangements at higher rates than white employees, with the number of Black workers preferring to work remotely increasing each quarter consistently since May 2021.[2]

But why? Let’s explore the top reasons Black employees prefer working remotely.

1. Code-Switching is Dead

Ask almost any Black professional how they survive and maintain in a predominately white office setting, and they’ll mention the term code-switching.

Code-Switching, as it relates to Black people in the workplace, is the deliberate shift in how Black people speak, act, and interact to ensure the comfort of their white and non-Black colleagues. Promotions, positive interactions, economic advancement – all of these are tied to a Black employee’s ability to essentially dial their blackness down when in the office.

Sounds exhausting, right? That’s because it is. It adds layers of stress and responsibilities that aren’t discussed in the job description or reflected in your salary. It’s exhausting to have to be “on” all the time. The pandemic shutting down in-person work gave Black people a taste of work without the switch, and we want that setup all the time. Remote work removes the hidden job responsibilities that come with code-switching.

2. Say Goodbye to In-Person Microaggressions

Those unnecessary comments you get every time you decide to try a new hairstyle? Gone.

Black women alone spend the bulk of their time in the office handling the policing of our bodies, our images, our hair, and our tone. It’s a challenge to give brainpower and resources to the work when you’re constantly fighting against how your coworkers inherently feel threatened by your non-threatening presence.

However, Black women are experiencing a sense of peace and relative quiet they would never get in an office setting, and that’s why many of them are now seeking job opportunities that offer fully remote work. Black women aren’t the only marginalized group assailed by microaggressions in the workplace; it happens across the board for Black and Brown employees.

Remote work has brought a sense of relief and freed up mental space to focus more on work and less on how it feels to be an employee of color.

3. No White-Centric Environment

In general, office culture and professionalism have standards primarily made by and for white men. Additionally, the employees in traditional offices are majority white.

Spending 40-plus hours a week occupying space that doesn’t represent you and, often, works to exclude you intentionally is exhausting at best. At its worst, it discourages the desire to put forth our best effort and thrive. Remote work offers the best alternative to employees of color.

When you don’t have to battle the awareness of seeing yourself through your colleagues’ eyes, you have a better chance of feeling like you belong. A sense of belonging is essential to success in a career, but it’s difficult obtain when your workplace culture doesn’t reflect diversity or make space for multiple identities to engage and excel.

Cowork Where Culture is Celebrated at Ambition Center MKE

Work culture continues to shift, and employees, managers, and companies must adjust in real-time. The trends point to more marginalized employees prioritizing their mental health and career growth through workplace flexibility. Remote work looks different for everybody, and coworking spaces like Ambition Center MKE are opening to meet the growing demand for culturally safe and diverse workspaces.

Milwaukee professionals opting for remote work over returning to the office can utilize Ambition Center MKE for its open coworking space or get a membership that includes a private office if they prefer something more personal.

Ambition Center MKE is Black-owned and centrally located, making it easily accessible to employees of all races. We value true diversity, not just in theory, but in the standards we set and our welcoming, inclusive coworking environment.

Ambition Center MKE is located at 530 E. Vienna Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53212, and offer daily tours of the space. Our team would love to meet you, so book a tour today!

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