Homeworking and conflict

Apr 17, 2020

With many people in the country now working individually from home, the likelihood of conflict between colleagues may well have plummeted.

Those irritating habits that once came between two people – using the wrong mug, or talking too loudly on the phone – do not now manifest themselves in ways that drive colleagues up the wall. However, that doesn’t mean that homeworking has solved it all. There is still room for conflict, and employers must keep a close eye on this.

Of course, some issues between colleagues are petty and seemingly insignificant, but with the potential to morph into something more serious. At the other end of the scale are issues such as bullying and harassment that can have profound effects straightaway and must be clamped down on immediately. Homeworking does not change any of that. While ‘the workplace’ is now very different to just a few weeks ago, an employer’s duty to safeguard employees’ health and wellbeing (often put at risk when conflict happens) remains. Equally, an employee working from home must continue to abide by the terms of his or her employment contract and the employer’s policies – something that should pave the way for formal action to be taken in the event of serious issues arising.

Keeping tabs on employee behaviour and relationships is undoubtedly far more difficult for employers at the moment. But keeping in touch in a meaningful way is relatively easy. Maintaining regular contact with each member of staff is actually vital if issues are to be brought to light. And problems cannot be left to fester – particularly as isolation can lead to their exacerbation.

Employers have been forced to embrace homeworking and, for some, it may continue to be commonplace long after this pandemic has ended. It is the new norm, for now at least. And if business is to function as normally and successfully as possible while employees work remotely, the usual workplace rules, standards, and practices must continue to apply. At the heart of this? Great communication.

To talk to us about a workplace issue, or about employment law generally contact Julian Cole on 01264 353411 or email info@bsandi.co.uk. We will be happy to help.

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