Remote Work as the Pathway to Inclusivity

Following the coronavirus crisis, the workplace has changed for just about everyone. Logging onto Zoom meetings has become the regular substitute for arriving at the office and being greeted by coworkers in person. While most people are experiencing the transition to remote work, one company, in particular, has been very familiar with virtual office space for years. The company has built a model to encourage inclusivity for years, dating back to before the pandemic. It has no intention of going back into the office anytime soon.

In 2013, two roommates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded Ultranauts; a start-up focused on software and data engineering. Since its founding, Ultranauts has served as a model for inclusivity. The kicker here is that Ultranauts has been a remote-based company from the very beginning. There are many examples that Ultranauts demonstrates in the path to more inclusive leadership.

Ultranauts has about 90 employees that work for the company. As a whole, Ultranauts believes in a culture of wide open, explicit communication with no unwritten rules. Transparency is a core value to the company. Ultranauts even uses software called Biodex to receive information on each remote workers’ communication and feedback preferences. A company the size of Ultranauts, needs to provide several accommodations to a diverse workforce. Some of these accommodations include archiving, recording, and transcribing meetings.

The New York Times details some of the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion shows that:

“Video meetings have closed captioning for workers who prefer to absorb information in text. Meeting agendas are distributed in advance so people who are uncomfortable speaking up can contribute in writing beforehand. Employees are asked daily for feedback, like whether they believe their strengths are valued and if they feel lonely at work.”

In particular, Ultranauts was founded “to use the untapped talent of autistic people, who often think and process information differently from the rest of the population.” Since one-quarter of American adults face some form of disability, the news from Ultranauts can be particularly encouraging for the changing workplace in a post-pandemic world.

As a whole, the company indicates that they will only be moving onward and upward.

Hopefully, the development of companies committed to the inclusion of all abilities reflects a growing movement in this space. Investors and other business professionals see the work that Ultranauts is doing. The Disability Opportunity Fund, SustainVC, Wasabi Ventures, and Moai Capital have invested $5.7 million so far. Ultranauts is planning to grow to over two hundred employees in the future.

Many companies have offered employees the opportunity to remain remote employees in the future, especially in the tech sector. Perhaps through this phenomenon, a pathway will develop for a more inclusive workplace. Technology can be harnessed to fully pursue an empathetic, compassionate, and inclusive workplace for all.

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