While the world continues to explore new advantages and disadvantages to working remotely, one thing remains to be true: remote work doesn’t inherently remove all conflict. Employees working from the comfort of their own home, avoiding stressful commutes, and keeping some distance with coworkers seems like the right recipe for a peaceful work culture, but it can sometimes have opposite impact. With folks experiencing increased stress in their home environment, they may prefer to be in the office where their focus can be more contained to job tasks. Additionally, the distance between employees may mean less critical information is being communicated as it would in person. For these reasons and more, it’s worth exploring conflict situations at work even when remote work is in focus.
Conflict Situations at Work
To avoid mediating disputes between employees, it’s helpful to identify common triggers. Remote work offers no exceptions. So to get ahead of possible conflict situations at work, keep an eye out for any of these potential problems:
Poor Information Distribution
While modern technology supports long-distance connections, it doesn’t always help us avoid feeling isolated when working remotely. When we’re working together in an office with our colleagues, we can communicate with ease and no need for process or formality. You can pop your head into your boss’s office to ask a quick question or catch up with a team member on a project while running into them at the water cooler. With remote work, communication has to be clearer and more intentional and sometimes things can be left out. One important workplace dispute resolution process comes by way of clear, direct, and frequent communication of important information everyone needs to know.
While information is important to communicate in service to coworker conflict solutions, so are meaning and intentions. Again, an in-person work environment allows for small moments in which employees can connect on a human level. Without that, peoples’ messages can be misinterpreted as aggressive or critical and this can escalate conflict situations at work quickly.
Sometimes working remotely is a proactive decision with mostly positive outcomes. Sometimes it’s a response to a larger need and in those situations, there may be uncertainty about what comes next. When do we go back to the office? What will it be like when we do? Will I adjust back into that environment with the same ease that I had previously? Addressing this stress during periods of uncertainty is one of the ways to manage conflict in organizations because it can give an outlet to anxiety that isn’t impulsive behavior or ineffective communication.
Solving workplace conflict can be uncomfortable and time consuming, even if employees are working remotely. If you’re experiencing this in your organization, get support from neutral and experienced professionals who can diffuse rather than ignite the tension at work. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.