Navigating Conflict in a Remote Workforce

As we move into a new era of normalized remote-working, employees and employers alike are reaping the many benefits that come with a remote-working model. As with any major changes, however, there is also a period of recalibration and employers must learn new ways to manage new challenges. 

We have all experienced the difficulty of managing digital communication in our personal lives and how easy misunderstandings can occur without face-to-face interactions, but how do we manage these situations in the workplace? 

As an employer or team leader, here are a few tips to keep teams collaborative, positive, and focused on your company mission: 

Don’t Let Problems Fester

Have an open and transparent conversation with each party involved as soon as it is brought to your attention. It might be tempting to try and allow the problem to work itself out, but, more often than not, this will leave more space for the issue to escalate. This is also a great opportunity to hear both perspectives, and allow each employee to feel heard and valued. 

Maintain Frequent Team Meetings

Many people, understandably, are suffering from meeting fatigue after a year of what feels like meetings to talk about other meetings. Regular team interactions, however, are critical in easing frustrations that can so easily crop up without candid conversation. These meetings can be used to talk about ways to navigate current challenges, open up the floor for feedback from your team, or simply team-building and bonding activities. Having time dedicated to your team as people rather than merely employees will be beneficial in reducing stress and tension, and allow them to get to know one another in an informal capacity. 

Teach Conflict Management

Continued growth opportunities have long been expressed as a benefit employees look for in their ideal employers. Use this opportunity to teach your team productive and effective techniques to manage conflict on their own. Teaching strategies to navigate problems will empower your employees to feel autonomous in their role and manage tensions before they result in a greater conflict. 

Always, Always Lead With Empathy

Always assume positive intentions, and work on expressing empathy to both parties. While your intervention may become necessary, in many circumstances, employees just need a sympathetic ear and someone to understand their frustrations. 

Conflict amongst colleagues is a challenge that is going to occur no matter the positive environment you have cultivated. The mark of a good leader is being able to manage the conflict, minimize future occurrences, and empower employees to feel comfortable in conquering this challenge on their own moving forward.