Remote work is no longer a way of working used by few and far between. For many companies today, it is the primary way of working. Just as an in-person toxic workplace can affect the mental health and job satisfaction of employees, so can a remote toxic workplace. We haven’t escaped these negative behaviors just because we no longer see each other physically every day. Here’s how you can identify whether your remote workplace has become a toxic place to be and how to avoid creating a remote toxic workplace.
Signs that Your Workplace is Becoming Toxic
There are numerous signs that you are in a remote toxic workplace. One significant indicator is if people seem to run on a short fuse and often have emotional outbursts. Emailing a snappy message back and getting upset over nothing are signs of the burnout that comes from a toxic workplace.
Another hint that your workplace may be becoming toxic is if everyone is stressed about proving that they are at their desks at all times. Remote managers may find it challenging to keep up with what everyone is doing, but you need to allow people some slack. Just as at work, someone may step away to make a coffee and chat with a colleague, they may do the same in a remote work environment.
Tips to Avoid Creating A Remote Toxic Workplace
There is nothing worse than a micromanaging manager, even in a remote work environment. If you want to avoid a toxic workplace, you need to trust your staff and give them the freedom to complete their work as they see fit. Rather than continually checking that everyone is online, have faith in your hiring abilities and in your team to get the job done. Many managers start to micromanage without even realizing it, so if you are guilty of this, don’t be hard on yourself but make sure that you change your habits quickly.
Encourage, Not Discourage
As a manager, your role is not to find every flaw in your employees’ work. Your job is to lift everyone up, especially in a remote work environment which can be incredibly isolating. The communication they receive from you may be the only conversation they have all day. Make sure that your team know how much you appreciate their work and speak constructively about what they can improve upon. It is also your role to ensure that everyone else adopts the same uplifting habits.
Do What You Say
Ever found yourself telling your staff to do things one way and then not following that same advice? It happens to the best of us, but managers need to make an effort to walk the talk. Otherwise, you are showing disrespect to your colleagues and your team. So, if you tell your team not to engage in certain behaviors, then you should also follow that rule.
Be Open and Honest
Do you ever find that people talk to you about other staff instead of speaking to them directly? It’s time to stop that behavior in its tracks. To create a non-toxic workplace, you must have a culture of openness and honesty. If someone says something negative to you about someone else, ask them to raise it with that person directly instead of coming to you about it. Being honest about a flaw in someone else’s work can be difficult, but it is far more productive than complaining about them behind their backs. How will anyone ever improve if they don’t know what they are doing wrong?
Work Smarter, Not Harder
A sure sign of a remote toxic workplace is when people are working all hours of the day and night and lack boundaries between their home life and work. Sure, it can be challenging when you work from home, but there needs to be a time when employees put their work phones and computers away and spend time with their families. Otherwise, you can be at risk of burnout.
Encourage your team to work smarter, not harder. As long as all of the work is being completed, then who cares if someone doesn’t work until precisely 5 pm? Offering a little flexibility can go a long way in proving that you trust your staff and avoid creating a toxic environment.
Working remotely can be more challenging for some people than others. Some people thrive in a remote environment, working in their own space where they get to control the temperature and the music. Others miss the daily interactions with colleagues and can find it hard to adjust to. During the transition to remote work, to avoid creating a toxic workplace, you must be empathetic. Understand that everyone will handle the situation differently and find various aspects of it challenging. Offer understanding and flexibility to those who need it. Allowing someone to start and finish work earlier to pick up their child from school can make all the difference to their job satisfaction and productivity.
If you don’t want a toxic workplace, one easy thing that you can do to prevent it is to reach out to others. Start virtual morning tea breaks where you can chat with colleagues over coffee, call a workmate you haven’t talked to in a while, message someone to check in on how they are doing. These acts can all mean the world to someone who is having a rough day or week. As you are not in the same office, you are less likely to notice when others are having a hard time. Putting the human connection back into your virtual work environment is one of the best ways to prevent a toxic workplace.
If you want to prevent your remote workplace from becoming a hostile environment, there are plenty of steps you can take. Intentionally reach out and check on others, be flexible, and be open to people doing things their own way. These actions can all help to avoid you creating a remote toxic workplace where burnout is the norm.