How does the shift to a hybrid remote/in-person workplace model affect harassment issues? The answers might surprise you. In this interview with Business.com, Kantola Training Solutions CEO, Sarah Rowell, shares what’s changed, and what hasn’t, about workplace harassment — along with specific benefits of addressing it proactively.
The remote work environment has what Rowell calls “reduced guardrails.” In person, bystanders can serve as the “early warning signals” for harassment — witnessing behavior, intervening, or possibly alerting human resources about issues as they arise. In remote work, there are often fewer bystanders, making it harder to deescalate situations before they come to a head.
Other risk factors like the isolation of remote work, the blurred lines between personal and professional space, and interacting mostly over instant messaging or email also make the remote environment unique when it comes to harassment.
Training on harassment issues has the spillover effects of reducing risky behavior across the board and creating a healthier workplace culture. In the interview below, Rowell offers some next steps for addressing harassment in remote work head on. Hint: It’s a great time to refresh policies and reevaluate workplace culture.