Stand Up Against Workplace Bullying in the Remote Working Age
Up to 50% of the US workforce is working from home at least part-time, but if you thought that remote work was an excellent way to field off bullying behaviors, think again! The Workplace Bullying Institute reports that over 43% of remote workers say they have been bullied, with 35% of them saying this has happened in virtual meetings and 15% reporting that the negative behaviors occurred during private virtual meetings. If you are telecommuting, then knowing how to identify unacceptable behavior and taking steps immediately are crucial. This will help ensure that being a victim of bullying does not have long-term effects on your psyche.
What Does Bullying in Remote Workplaces Look Like?
It’s amazing to think that bullying can take place over simple work messaging and project management apps. Typical bullying behavior includes making negative comments in chats and emails, leaving someone out of important meetings, discounting or interrupting someone repeatedly during video conferences, changing passwords, so someone cannot carry out their tasks, and similar. It can also consist of favoritism—for instance, when superiors assign more paid work to some staff members and punish others by offering them fewer opportunities despite the fact they are equally qualified.
Why Can It Be Harder to Stop?
Workplace bullying can be harder to stop because it is harder to spot. This is especially true if the bullying takes place in a private channel, or if a group of workers is ganging up against someone else, unbeknownst to managers. This is why organizations cannot simply create measures for dealing with bullying once it happens. It is essential to create a culture that shuns disrespect, gossiping, and exclusion.
What Can You Do If You Are Being Bullied Remotely?
If you are a victim of bullying, ask a team member from Human Resources or an immediate superior (if you trust them and the relationship is positive) how to make a complaint. While it is usually a good idea to go directly to the person who is causing you a grievance, if they are engaging in bullying behavior, then they could utilize the information you give them against you. Therefore, you may need to go through official channels to ensure your words are not twisted and the issue is taken seriously.
Self-Care is Vital
You should also consider seeing a therapist if you feel that these behaviors are causing problems like stress, anxiety, and depression. Bullying can and often does have long-term consequences. Don’t just repress or deny your pain, as it can manifest itself in physical and mental symptoms and, in some cases, in illness. Take steps to pamper yourself and ensure your home office is conducive to concentration and effectiveness. You can do so by investing in ergonomic furniture, opting for colors and interior schemes that calm your mind, and one or two items of storage, so your workspace is always neat. Make sure your space is quiet and, if possible, position it in a part of your home that gets plenty of natural sunlight.
The Vital Role Played by Organizations in Curbing Bullying
For workers to feel comfortable communicating instances of bullying, their company or organization must adopt a clear, unequivocal policy that is communicated to all staff members. They should communicate exactly how someone who is a victim of bullying should report the incident, establish anonymous hotlines so that staff can report troublesome behaviors, and ensure that staff knows there is zero tolerance for bullying. Education is also vital if subtle or covert bullying is to be eliminated. Staff should be trained to recognize obvious and more stealthy signs of bullying, so they can report incidents experienced by themselves or others. Role-playing, the provision of online resources, and company newsletters can all help stress the importance of respect and kindness among staff.
For many people who have experienced bullying, remote work was seen as a chance to work comfortably from home, free from the clutches of bullies. However, reality has proven to be very different from how many workers imagined, and statistics show that bullying hasn’t stopped at all. What’s more, it can be harder to spot because online communications often fly under the radar of supervisors. Companies should boost workers’ awareness of what remote bullying is and inform them of the protocol for reporting and dealing with this type of harassment.