If you think that conflicts only take place face to face, you are wrong. Conflicts can arise even when the entire team is working from home. In fact, remote work conflict has become a common incident in the new normal. By having in-depth knowledge about this type of workplace conflict and prevention, you can avoid the remote work conflict for good.
What Is Remote Work Conflict?
Short altercations regularly occur in the office as people interact in the lunchroom or the elevator. A face-to-face discussion usually resolves most conflicts. Communication style and body language carry a great deal of significance during conflict resolution.
When communicating remotely via digital devices without a personal touch, this opportunity is lost. As a result, remote work conflicts are caused by miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Remote work requires virtual communication, and it is usually the cause of conflicts. As you rely more on email and messaging platforms, it becomes easier to misunderstand emails or hastily composed messages.
There may also be conflict arising from work responsibilities, individual behaviors, personalities clashes, or administrative styles. Not to mention video conferences, where it’s difficult to interpret body language when people are not present face-to-face.
The more visual clues you miss, the more likely you are to make a mistake. In addition to relying on technology, remote work eliminates informal communication.
Preventing Conflict in Remote Work Is Important
Remote Work Conflict can adversely impact employee productivity, organizational performance, and the overall work environment. The following can happen as the outcome of a dispute in work from home situations:
- At the initial level, the productivity of the remote worker will suffer.
- The stress due to conflict also reduces motivation levels.
- When you don’t address conflicts, the employees may not be present for work to avoid the clash personally.
- If the lack of conflict management continues, employees may decide to resign from their posts.
- Extreme cases can force the participants to find an external resolution. Apart from seeking union protection, employees may seek help from law enforcement agencies.
How to Prevent Remote Work Conflict
It’s worth noting that you cannot eliminate the possibility of remote work conflict entirely. However, every member of the organization got their part to play to lessen such disputes. You can reduce the number and extremity of conflicts by applying the following tips.
1. Stay Accessible to All
Smooth communication is the key to prevent conflict in remote work. As an employer, regularly communicate with all employees. Make sure anyone can access you easily while you reach out to them with equal ease. You should maintain the same accessibility rules for everyone.
2. Keep Track of Productivity
You should personally keep track of employee productivity using apps or tools. When you have all the necessary information about each employee, you can avoid any misunderstanding regarding job responsibility and performance. Also, make the productivity-related information available to the employees through online whiteboards.
3. Set Clear Expectations
Conflict thrives in an environment full of uncertainty. You have to set clear expectations and monitor all the crucial processes, procedures, and outcomes according to the expectations.
4. Set Positive Examples
As an employer, everyone will look up to you for behavior and communication skills. Therefore, your behavior and communication style will have a direct effect on your employees. You should set the best example in terms of conversation and attitude.
5. Ask Questions
To avoid any conflict as an employee, you must not hesitate to ask questions whenever you need clarification. When you seek answers from your supervisor or the employer, you minimize opportunities for work conflict in the future.
Clarify a specific point or ask for an explanation before the discussion moves on by the time your internet connection allows you to do so.
6. Be Courteous and Frank
Remote working means having impersonal nature of communications. At such points, you have to be polite and well-mannered. Stay open while you communicate with others to prevent conflict. Don’t let other parties think that you’re deceiving them.
7. Be on the Same Page
While communicating in a remote environment, never assume the other party already knows or agrees to your point. Instead, ask for confirmation to prevent any doubt or misunderstanding.
8. Move Ahead of Issue
Most remote work conflicts happen when the long-neglected issues reach the breaking point. Don’t wait for the other party to come forward and resolve the issue. Either you can make the first move to settle it or make peace with the problem.
9. Apply Same Rules for All
You have to set some ground rules to ensure a level playing field for all the members. Regardless of the location and the situation, make sure you apply the same rules to all. For that, have the policies and procedures written in clear language and make those available to everyone.
10. Regular Group Meetings
Once you form a team, make arrangements for an in-person introductory meeting, if possible. There, team members can meet one another face to face outside the digital screen. Apart from that, regularly meet the team through video conferences or virtual meetings to promote a collective mentality.
11. Offer Shared Workspace
You can always establish a common workspace for the team members to ensure real-time and informal communication. You can use free or paid team collaboration and brainstorming tools like Bluescape, Miro, Mural, etc. While handling project-oriented teams, make use of online project tracking software to ensure transparency.
12. Celebrate Success Together
Celebrating occasions such as success and milestone achievement will offer the team members opportunities to mingle together. There can be awards for their performance. Such team activities promote the mutual appreciation and strengthen morale.
Prevent and Resolve Remote Work Conflict Effortlessly
No matter how uncomfortable and disruptive remote work conflicts are, they are sometimes unavoidable. You can prevent remote work conflict within any organization, from a small business to a large enterprise, by following the tips in this article.
Using digital platforms, it is necessary for employers, team leads, and employees to communicate more frequently on creativity and productivity.
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