When working from an office, workplace conflict is resolved relatively quickly with face-to-face conversation. But now that teams are mostly remote, communicating primarily through slack messages and email, learning how to manage workplace conflict has become more challenging. 


Employees struggle to stay productive as the pandemic drags on and find it difficult to separate work and life when both environments have merged. In this post, we’ll explain why managing workplace conflict when your team is remote is essential, how to manage workplace conflict, and signs your team may be experiencing conflict but haven’t expressed it yet. 


What causes conflict amongst remote teams?

Conflict can come from the same problems that you might experience when you’re in a workplace. Below are just a few of the reasons that your team might be experiencing conflict. 


Misinterpretation

When you’re sending messages online, your communication misses an essential element: the non-verbal cues. Things like facial expressions and hand gestures can change how the receiver interprets a message. And while video calls are live and face-to-face, it still doesn’t quite cut it like an in-person meeting. 


Technology

With everything communicated digitally, emails and calls can get missed. Messages can get lost in translation. One too many pulled into an email can make things confusing. And just generally, the process can slow down, making it frustrating for people to get tasks done. Not to mention, with everyone working from, it’s hard to know how productive everyone truly is. 


Lack of direction 

When teams work in a virtual environment, it’s hard to pull people into conversations at the drop of a hat. Thus, many emails and messages can confuse who is assigned the task and what needs to get done. Without direction or feeling like someone else is taking over their responsibilities, employees can become hostile. 


How to manage workplace conflict online  

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you manage conflict between employees when working remotely. 


1. Schedule regular one-on-one’s

Providing your team with a time and place to give feedback regularly will promote conflict management between team members. 


2. Streamline communication

If conflict is starting because of a lack of communication or a cog in the wheel, it’s best to evaluate the current processes and look at how what can improve now that your team is entirely remote. 


3. Make time to review

As the manager, who’s also merged work and life, it’s essential to make time to review the current landscape of your team on your own. By stepping back and studying, you can see anything that seems off or out of place. 


4. Build a conflict resolution process 

If there’s a conflict between two employees, it’s best to identify the best way to handle the solution based on the situation. It may be uncomfortable to bring everyone in on a video call, so it might be better to chat with an employee independently and then allow the two employees to speak. 


5. Delegate tasks clearly 

What could be frustrating employees and causing workplace conflict is a lack of direction. Make sure to clearly outline what an employees task is and what outcome they should deliver on. 


Summary 

Workplace conflict, whether in-person or online, is something we would all like to avoid. But if it crops up, it’s always best to handle it head-on, so it doesn’t develop into something that affects the overall company culture or other team members. When in doubt:


  • Check-in frequently with employees 
  • Encourage empathy
  • Maintain company culture 


Managing teams can be challenging, but it becomes much easier to have the right resources to help. Consider RosterElf’s complete free HR toolkit. For more on rostering and scheduling your team all in one place, check out RosterElf’s rostering software features