Work-from-home is the new norm now. The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses across the world to enforce the system of remote working, to reduce the spread of the deadly virus. Even if one can’t enjoy the daily work life at offices, this phenomenon has its own perks too. Remote working has uplifted health benefits for employees and has also allowed them to bond with their respective families at home.
With such advantages, a few drawbacks are bound to come. If we focus on workplace evils, workplace harassment has shifted its base from physical workplaces to virtual at-home environment. Such harassment levels can have devastating effects on the employees’ well being and their surroundings as well.
Recognising the red flags of workplace harassment even in remote working is extremely important to maintain overall productivity. Several studies have concluded that several offices have experienced a rise in workplace harassment. In the account of this, we bring to the top warning calls of this atrocious social evil.
1. Inappropriate comments about someone’s appearance
Video calls on phones or laptops are really common but this can be a major red flag. Other employees can pass derogatory remarks about the employees’ appearance. Comments or uncomfortable gestures that are discriminatory to the individual’s behaviour at home can be harmful. One should immediately approach the HR or your manager about it.
2. Harassment via work channels
All employees are coordinating and communicating via channels like text messages, email, video or audio calls, or group calls. There can be many people involved in passing obscene remarks and comments via emails in bulk. A few employees can group together and start commenting on another employee’s conduct. If the group leader senses such wrongdoings, then they should immediately talk to the team or contact the HR.
3. Unprofessional behaviour and conduct
Jokes are quite common among colleagues and it’s perfectly fine to joke about casual stuff. But, when obscene jokes enter the picture, it can be a problem. No matter how close you are to the colleague, making unprofessional and lewd jokes can be upsetting. Unprofessional behaviour with colleagues on a Zoom meeting is a matter of concern, even if the meeting’s agenda is somewhat lighthearted.
4. Left out of conversations
Being an office around everyone allows one to engage in all sorts of conversation. However, this isn’t the case at home. One may feel excluded from conversations because everyone is at a different place. Groups of colleagues may form and another colleague may feel excluded when the others get on a group call or meeting, thus excluding the person. This can happen knowingly and unknowingly as well. In such circumstances, it’s best to steer clear and ask the other colleagues about the situation in a straightforward tone.
5. Aggressive environment
There’s no doubt that harassment can happen virtually as well. Hence, employees should be careful about receiving messages, phone calls or emails that promote fraudulent or inappropriate behaviour. Individuals should always be on the lookout for such circumstances and shouldn’t take it lightly. A healthy and safe environment for working is what all companies aspire to do. So, managers and HRs can also take certain steps like hosting virtual or educational sessions on workplace harassment that can reduce any obscene behaviours. One can also introduce stricter policies on workplace behaviour.
6. Forced video calls
This is the worst of all. Employees have been asked to switch on their video calls during meetings, necessarily or not. Even after work hours, workers are asked to complete their work or cover some extra hour shifts and thus, also engage in video calls. This especially applies to females. They are asked to switch on their video during virtual meetings and they may also experience inappropriate behaviour on calls. This calls for strict action. Managers should immediately act on such circumstances.
7. Forced feeling of gratitude
The pandemic left seral people without jobs and basic income. May industries had to lay off workers to maintain the economic balance. Hence, those who are still employed get to listen a lot from their manager. Are you expecting positive things? No, not at all. Instead, some managers don’ leave chances in telling the employees that they should be grateful for still being employed. This induces greater insecurity among the employees and this is also a major, but an uncommon form of virtual workplace harassment.
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