Learning & Development

Dealing with Disagreements Between Remote Employees

HR professionals must handle employee disagreements every day. Meanwhile, many businesses let their employees work remotely, and as a result, today’s HR pros must explore ways to manage disagreements among remote staff.

You want remote workers to feel empowered, and they must communicate and collaborate with one another. If disagreements arise among remote staff, you must handle them promptly and effectively. Otherwise, these disagreements can hamper remote worker productivity, as well as disrupt both your remote and your in-house staff.

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There are many things you can do to manage disagreements among remote employees before they escalate. These include:

1. Open the Lines of Communication

The best managers encourage honest and open communication among all employees. Give your remote staff ample opportunity to connect with you and discuss any issues with their coworkers. From here, you can ensure your employees can work together to get to the root of a disagreement and resolve the issue.

Generally, it helps to give your remote workers multiple avenues to communicate with one another. Videoconferences, phone calls, text messages, and e-mails can be used to foster communication across your remote staff. Furthermore, provide regular reminders to ensure remote workers know they can come forward with any concerns and questions at any time.

Be flexible with your management style, too. You may possess a wide range of management skills that work well in a traditional office setting, but you may need to adjust your management style to keep pace with employees who work from locations around the world. If you are willing to adapt your management style, you can communicate with remote workers in ways that work best for them.

2. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

You want your remote workers to maintain a healthy work/life balance, but remote staff may be prone to working long hours without a break. This can lead to burnout and exhaustion and cause employees to feel unhappy at work to the point where their job negatively affects their mental health.

When faced with remote employee disagreements, encourage workers to take a break, which could allow them to temporarily step away from their work and focus on their overall health. Then, these workers can calm down and revitalize their bodies and minds, returning to work and feeling and performing their best once again.

Remember, a healthy work/life balance is a must for all workers at all times. Educating remote workers about the importance of taking regular breaks and prioritizing their physical, mental, and emotional health is key. Thus, it pays to provide remote employees with tools and resources to help them take care of themselves. That way, these employees will be well-equipped to develop and maintain a healthy work/life balance.

3. Establish Realistic Expectations for Remote Workers

Your remote workers should know what you expect of them and vice versa. Thanks to employee journey-mapping, you can set the stage for positive relationships among your workforce. Plus, you can lower your risk of remote worker disagreements.

Employee journey maps demonstrate how workers can move forward in their careers and outline steps a worker can take to achieve myriad career aspirations. These maps also highlight your business’s commitment to helping its employees thrive.

Learn what your remote workers want to accomplish, and help them craft their journey maps. Then, you can explain the steps required for remote employees to move forward in their careers. With journey maps in place, these employees can work with others to succeed within your business.

4. Collect and Implement Employee Feedback

Remote workers are busy, but you should make time to engage with them regularly. By checking the pulse of your remote staff, you’ll be able to find out if potential disagreements are brewing and take steps to address such issues in their early stages.

At the first sign of a remote worker disagreement, provide support. Reach out to the employees involved in the conflict, get facts surrounding the disagreement, and do not take sides. Instead, use your knowledge and insights to get the employees involved in the disagreement to communicate with one another. You can then work with these employees to find common ground and alleviate the problem.

Finally, ask remote employees how they feel it is best to resolve workplace disputes. Host remote employee brainstorming sessions, and provide questionnaires and surveys, which can allow you to get feedback regarding remote workers and how they want to mitigate disputes. You can then implement this feedback to help your remote staff address conflicts going forward.

The Bottom Line on How to Deal with Disagreements Between Remote Employees

There is no telling when a disagreement will arise among remote staff. Fortunately, HR pros who are proactive in their efforts to avoid remote worker disagreements can identify these disputes without delay. They can also help remote employees communicate and collaborate with one another, even if these workers do not see eye to eye on certain topics.

By taking the lead in remote employee disagreements, you can help your staff learn from their disputes and find the best resolutions. Most importantly, you can foster camaraderie among your remote staff members and help these employees feel and perform their best at work—now and in the future. 

Luke Smith is a Guest Contributor at HR Daily Advisor.