Workplace Conflict in a Remote Setup: How to Handle Conflicts Among Remote Teams

January 3, 2023by Jamie Blake

Despite the fact that most companies have resumed in-office work models, many have retained their remote setups. To illustrate, a recent report by Ryan Golden revealed that over 69% of offices in the US have closed some or all of their office space since 2020. Of these companies, 37% state that they had permanently closed their physical offices. This shift indicates that organizations are now acknowledging the opportunities and benefits associated with remote work, such as cost savings and higher productivity.

However, business writer Amanda Stevens has noted that while remote work brings advantages, it can create challenges too. For instance, remote work can result in a loss of work-life balance for some employees. It can lead to people working more than their regular hours, causing employee burnout and lower morale. Additionally, remote work can contribute to a lack of communication and understanding between teams. As a result, leaders could encounter conflicts more frequently than usual.

As such, in this article, we will share four ways you can effectively handle conflicts in remote teams.

Acknowledge the conflict

When faced with a conflict, whether it’s between you and your team or an argument between two workers, the first thing you should do is acknowledge the situation. Simply ignoring the issue will only make matters worse. For example, any delays in resolving the conflict from your end may make the involved parties impatient and frustrated. This can lead to employees taking extreme measures to address the problem on their own, which can affect others and the entire company. Lastly, avoiding unpleasant situations will reflect poorly on your character as a leader and individual. Your team members can consider your lack of action as insensitivity to the issue at work. Instead, make sure to let all the parties involved know that the matter is in your sights and resolving it is part of your agenda.

Listen to both sides of the argument

In our post on ‘Figuring Out How to Deal With Staff Conflict’, we mentioned that it’s necessary to collect information regarding the situation. By doing so, you can better understand the bigger picture and give objective feedback. So, the next step you should do is to gather the involved individuals in a meeting and discuss the issue in detail. Ensure that all concerned employees get their time to talk and take down notes as you listen to their problems. Moreover, remember to establish ground rules, such as no yelling and no interrupting, to guarantee that the meeting goes smoothly. Lastly, maintain impartiality while overseeing the discussion. This will allow you to suggest a resolution that can satisfy both parties.

Promote clear communication

Once you have resolved the conflict, the next step is to develop ways to prevent the same issue from happening again. One of the ways you can do this is by prioritizing clear communication at work. This is why Maryville University’s article on change management highlights that communication is essential, especially when managing a remote workforce. Not only will proper communication effectively streamline the workflow, but it can also help to avoid and deal with future conflicts. With this, remember to keep all employees in the loop with important messages and inform them of your expectations about their work. Doing so ensures that employees are aware of each other’s tasks and responsibilities, preventing misunderstandings such as the unclear division of labor.

Set a good example as a leader

Finally, setting a good example for your employees will help you handle conflict more efficiently. If you’re disrespectful or aggressive when communicating issues with your team, your employees may follow suit because they deem the action acceptable under your supervision. Indeed, a Forbes feature on leadership tips shared that demonstrating an attitude of positivity and professionalism can set the right tone for your team. For instance, if you take the lead in fixing things and working for the greater good, your workforce will be encouraged to perform the same action. This means conflicts between employees will be resolved more quickly with little to no intervention from your end.

Jamie Blake

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