Workplace bullying continues, even in remote and hybrid working. In fact, according to an article dated 6 July 2022 following research by Fox and Partners, over the past 12 months the number of claims lodged in the Employment Tribunal alleging workplace bullying jumped by 44%, reaching an all-time annual high.
There could be a range of factors involved, including but not limited to:
The difficulties identifying bullying behaviour and spotting bullies within the workplace via remote working. Bullying can take a number of forms, including exclusion, online gossiping, and more.
Difficulty in resolving conflicts remotely, which can leave bad feelings and damaged working relationships. Additionally, it can be difficult for managers to see conflicts between staff remotely and thus intervene.
In traditional office environments bystanders could intervene if they noticed bullying, however this can be harder to do in remote working environments.
Furthermore, real time face-to-face meetings allow for more emotional and physical expressions which remote working can restrict.
This BBC article shows the unkind behaviours that can take place whilst detailing a first-hand experience. It shows that bullying still prevails even in remote working environments.
Questions we should ask are whether employers need to do more for those who are subjected to workplace bullying remotely, in addition to bullying within an office or other workplace settings.
Are their bullying policies and practices are up to date to reflect the new ways of working? Have they provided the right guidance and training to all staff so that they know the standards expected? Do victims know what help is available and how to escalate a problem if they believe they are being bullied remotely?
If you have been a victim of workplace bullying, or require advice on workplace bullying practices and guidance, please do reach out to our Employment team here.
“In the digital context, often it's up to us to interpret tone of voice, and it's difficult to do that,” Sharma says. “So people can begin to question their sense of belonging, if they’re being bullied and if it’s intentional” - Priyanka Sharma.