Improving Communication and Addressing Toxicity in Virtual Workspaces

Published On
Jun 13, 2022
Read Time
4 Minutes
OnBlick Inc

A toxic work environment can affect the operations of any company’s physical workspace or virtual workspace. Apart from being unproductive, a toxic workplace can also lead to high stress levels and turnover. As more companies adopt hybrid and virtual work environments, recognizing the signs of a toxic workplace becomes vital.

This article suggests strategies managers must adopt to improve communication and address toxicity in virtual workspaces.

Toxic Employees and Productivity Depletion

Toxic employees are individuals who negatively influence others due to their behavior, attitude, and work ethic. They are often involved in workplace bullying, mistreatment and gossiping. These people are dangerous because they can create an environment that demoralizes others. They cause hindrance to communication and drain away others’ energy and creativity. This act eventually drags the companies into productivity depletion.

Managing a Toxic Environment

Organizations may find it challenging to handle toxic behaviour in a team or a working environment. Here comes the role of managers. Managers often have a good rapport with their teammates. They can sort things for the company better. Once a toxic environment is triggered, managers can make use of certain tactics to ensure a positive working space. With their help, the team members’ self-esteem could be boosted, and the entire team’s productivity improved.

Effective Communication Helps!

Seven Ways to Address Toxicity in Virtual Workspaces

Once they learn about the toxic work environment in a virtual setting, many HR professionals wonder how to fix it. We have seven effective ways to help you.

1. Set policies and goals

Set clear policies for virtual working space. Creating clear policies, checks and balances in place will help minimize employees’ likelihood of acting up while working from home. Having boundaries can help prevent toxic employees from stepping over the line. Managers can make sure that the goals and tasks of each member in the organization are well defined. A clear understanding of the team’s performance can help improve the efficiency of the whole process. Precise policies and goals will keep the employees away from creating issues.

2. Do not ignore any toxic behaviour

Immediately addressing toxic behavior can prevent it from spreading in the working space. Managers must set proper protocols to help those team members avoid falling prey to toxicity. Managers who notice any harmful behavior, rather than ignoring it, should try to take action and make amendments when necessary.

3. Be a good listener

A toxic employee can cause conflicts with other employees. Empowering the employees will make sure that they become capable of handling these issues directly. Managers should be good listeners who support their teammates to come forward and report the problems they face in the workplace. One of the most effective ways to encourage employees is to reduce the spread of rumors and gossip. This can help prevent toxic behavior from affecting the entire team.

When employees can handle a conflict without consulting management, they feel more capable of dealing with the harmful behavior of their fellow workers. This can also help you build effective teams.

4. Train and equip them

Another effective way to deal with a toxic employee in a remote office is through training. This method of managing your employees can be very challenging, especially if they have noxious backgrounds. Before you start, ensure you have the necessary skills to guide them. Otherwise, you may find a mentor with a track record of helping others who are struggling and set training for the same.  

Mentoring someone in this way helps them understand that their behavior requires to be reformed.  

5. Effective one-on-one meetings

Face-to-face meetings will decrease employees’ distances, creating a transparent environment and good communication. Being open reduces the possibility of any toxic behavior among the employees. Employees being aware that the management is listening and watching is also a way to create awareness among them. To ensure that the meeting is conducted in a conducive environment, choose the dates and venues that are available in advance and inform them.

6. Rewards to motivate

Motivating your team members by regularly rewarding them for their achievements and good work aid in building healthy relationships in the team. Sending personalized messages to their virtual team members can be of help. These should include short summaries of their achievements that you can share with them whenever they reach their goals. Rewarding the employees through a pay raise or bonus can also help improve the team’s performance and make them more willing to work better.  

A culture of appreciation is a great way to enhance the communication between the members of your organization, and it indirectly helps avoid toxicity.

7. Replace if nothing works

While the managers take every inch to prevent and provide a healthy working environment for the employees, replacing them will be a better and safest way to keep the team moving if they continue to be unwilling to retrieve from any toxic character. However, even if they are one of the team’s best performers, you may have to let them go if all else fails. This could cause an HR crisis at your company. Keep it as a last resort; it’s essential to prepare for the possibility only after giving ample opportunities.

Summing Up

Recent studies have revealed that remote work can amplify the toxic behavior of employees. Managing toxic team members in a remote office can be challenging due to the lack of direct interaction. Knowing how to tackle these issues will help companies build a productive environment. Managers can use the strategies outlined in this article to ensure that they nurture good communication and healthy relationships in the teams.

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