Telework: Managing Conflicts At A Distance

Teleworking has several advantages, but it can also lead to conflict. Do you also work from home? Then this article will interest you.
Telework: Managing conflicts at a distance

Teleworking has many advantages, but this new dynamic also presents a challenge that is not always easy. When conflicts  arise at a distance , it is important to deal with them properly and find solutions.

In many cases, working from home is not nearly as beneficial or convenient as many think. You may be more flexible, but family and work in the same place can be complicated. In addition, you often have to work longer and communication at a distance is not always easy. The performance appraisal seems to be unfair in many cases and conflicts are inevitable.

Many companies do not yet have the right infrastructure, which is why they often improvise. Teamwork at a distance is only possible if specific collaborative tools are used,  but not every worker has experience with it. This means that difficulties and conflicts can arise in day-to-day organization.

Work at a distance

Manage conflicts at a distance

The first attempts at teleworking began as early as the 1980s (Belzunegui, 2002), but the companies were not prepared for this and working from home could not prevail. It was not until the 1990s that the foundations for working from home were developed in various countries. This was made possible by new information and communication technologies. 

Much has changed in the meantime:  Legal regulations, new collaborative tools and the corresponding technological foundations are the best prerequisites for efficient teleworking, from which both employers and employees benefit. 

Nevertheless, as with any interpersonal communication, conflicts are inevitable. Today we are looking into the question of how these can best be solved.

You weren’t online when you were needed!

You get up briefly and at that very moment your boss or an employee who needs help will get in touch. This quickly creates the suspicion that you are doing other things during your working hours or that you are negligent. It is therefore important to put down the working conditions in writing and to inform employees of the schedule.

Sitting in front of the computer for many hours does not automatically mean being  productive. The performance measurement should therefore take into account achieved goals or specific tasks, but not necessarily the constant presence, which can be variable.

You didn’t answer right away!

You received an email from another team member, but you didn’t reply to it immediately, even though you were obviously online. You may be focusing on another task that you don’t want to interrupt. This can be misinterpreted and lead to conflicts. But even when working remotely, priorities have to be set and it is usually more effective to answer e-mails only at a certain point in time instead of being constantly distracted by it.

You can avoid conflicts by advising your team members that you should only answer emails at a specific time in order to be more efficient. Of course, you also have to accept that the response times to your inquiries are a little longer. For urgent matters, collaborative tools are very helpful.

Work at a distance

Conflicts at a distance: who asked for what? Who did what?

Working in the home office requires excellent organization from the entire team. Conflicts can arise when the division of labor is not clear. When employees do not know their exact tasks and responsibilities, working at a distance is very difficult. One team member relies on another, but they don’t even know they should do a specific task. This can create accusations and tension.

Every teleteam needs a coordinator who takes care of the organization and the smooth process. The responsible person sets the daily agenda and distributes the tasks.

  • Video calls, collaborative tools and various communication channels are fundamental to organizing teamwork.
  • Virtual meetings must take place at a predetermined time in order to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts at a distance.

Teleworking often causes stress, loneliness and feelings of overload. That is why it is particularly important to organize the tasks in the team well and to prevent conflicts.

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