Words such as workplace flexibility, working from home, remote working, hybrid workplaces, Zoom, Teams, virtual meeting are now common vocabulary of this new normal of workplaces have now become part of the everyday lexicon of office speak.
Flexible or hybrid working arrangement or working from home are part of the new normal where employees are working away from the office rather than in it.
What is becoming more obvious is the trend of ‘upward bullying’ where managers are being bullied by their subordinates.
Examples of upward bullying behaviour being more clearly experienced in the post-pandemic workplace:
- An employee constantly “multi-tasking” during remote meetings – e.g. being online reading news articles and chatting on Facebook messenger
- A middle manager deliberately leaving their manager out of invitations to Teams meetings on the basis they had “forgotten” in a veiled attempt at undermining the manager’s authority and questioning their competency
- A secretary organising “zoom lunches” and deliberately leaving out more senior employees on the basis they were relatively new starters and didn’t want to put the effort in to “connect with them” right now
- An executive had difficulty in managing his salesperson who complained she felt she was being talked down to when discussing KPIs (in practical terms not being met), felt “anxious” and “stressed” as a result and didn’t want to work with the executive any longer
- An employee deliberately missing internal meetings with their manager on a regular basis
- An employee joining zoom meetings after being advised they were not to be involved and continued to “talk over” their manager
- A manager was accused of sexual harassment and discriminatory behaviour when he mentioned to his younger employee that the pyjamas she was wearing in the Teams meeting was inappropriate for the workplace
- A HR manager was accused of sexual harassment whilst he was undertaking a show cause process (remotely) with an employee due to sarcastic remarks made by the HR Manager during their initial discussions.
What Is Workplace Bullying?
Workplace bullying is defined as:
- Repeated behaviour; and
- The behaviour is unreasonable towards a worker or group of workers; and/or
- It creates a risk to health and safety.
What’s different with remote working?
The ability for managers and employers to set the tone of the culture in the workplace through office layout, ping pong tables and Friday afternoon drinks is now limited. In practical terms, geographical isolation can lead to ineffective or at the very least delayed reasonable management action.
It is essential you take proactive steps to protect your organisation against upward bullying, particularly in the context of remote working.
5 Tips to prevent and handle upward bullying in remote working environment
- Duty of Care: As the employer, you have a duty of care under workplace health and safety legislation to ensure a manager and supervisor are also protected from health and safety risks. When an allegation is made against a manager or supervisor, you should conduct an investigation just as you would where an employee lodges a bullying complaint against their manager
- Remote working policy: Remote working requires a policy which at least sets out standards and expectations for remote working. In particular, you should outline contact times, availability, dress codes and reinforcing that working from home still means it is a workplace
- Reinforce a code of conduct: Ensure your ‘code of conduct’ policy avoids ambiguity by clearly stating employees that undermining, ‘white anting’, bullying and/or sexual harassment will not be tolerated from any employee; no matter where the work station is located.
- Clear Communication: The remote work environment can be static and overly formal or, alternatively, overly informal. Clear communication is essential as is the chain of command. Without clarity and clear boundaries, you may find a rise in sick leave, complaints, missed meetings and underperformance.
- Consider training for management staff: Remote management may well require a different skill set or at least organisational thinking. Consider training management teams on how to handle bullying behaviour.
NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Akyra can help your business to assist and support all your questions and concerns related to remote working arrangements and workplace bullying. Please contact Akyra on 07 3204 8830 or book a free 30-minute consultation for an obligation-free conversation.
Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not intended to be legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.