As much as you want to avoid it, conflicts can and may arise when working with a team—remote or not!
Conflicts can be poisonous and have the potential to break apart working relationships, resulting in your team's overall productivity decline—along with everyone's creativity and morale.
How do you handle conflict in the workplace?
Take a look at these different ways to manage conflict in your remote team and steer your team on to the right track!
Why is conflict more likely to occur in remote teams?
Having a remote team has plenty of advantages, but there are also a few shortcomings that you might not even think about.
One of the biggest drawbacks of working with a remote team is the likelihood of having miscommunication that could eventually lead to a serious dispute.
Such disputes emerge due to the long-distance communication and access you have with your remote team members. Therefore, it is integral for you to learn how to manage conflict effectively.
“Most quarrels amplify a misunderstanding.”-Andre Gide
Misunderstanding is the common root of conflicts between two individuals or groups.
Often, there are two or more different dialogues and perspectives quarrelling over each other, all vetting over the same situation.
Before a conflict—big or small—goes out of hand, here are the best ways to manage inter-work disputes through the digital platform.
Related Article: 10 Key Tips for Effective Meetings with Your Remote Staff
Stay on the same page with your remote team
How do you manage conflicts or issues when working remotely?
Due to the geographical distance, it can be quite a struggle to communicate with your team.
Therefore, you must effectively utilise online platforms from group chats and emails to phone and face-to-face video calls.
These different online platforms all reach out to your team in varying degrees. Learn which online communication tools work best for different situations in this article.
To perform well as a team, you and your team members must work towards the same goals. To achieve these goals, you all must be on the same page.
Communication is key to creating a united and cooperative team—a team that works together to take its operations to the next level.
In fact, according to Wainhouse Research, 94% of businesses that utilise video conferencing had increased productivity in their businesses operations.
Another thing to keep in mind: the most effective way to stay connected with your remote team is through regular meetings and constant communication.
This way, you'll get weekly updates on a project's progress, enabling you to monitor whether or not your team's deliverables meet deadlines and your business' long-term goals.
By seeing eye-to-eye with your team, you're able to prevent conflict with your remote team right from the get-go.
Create a virtual workspace
Despite being away from your remote team, you might think that communicating with your remote team will be a breeze because of all the online communication tools out there—well, think again.
Unlike having an in-house team whom you can approach in person at all times (during work hours), getting a hold of your remote team isn't as easy. It takes time and coordination to get a hold of every single member when you're not in the same physical space.
Major Tip: To effectively prevent miscommunications, one of the most tried and tested ways to manage remote teams is through creating a virtual workspace.
These numbers from Communication Barriers in the Modern Workplace Study (2018) can help you figure out the best communication tools you can use with your team:
- Email 58%
- Instant Messaging 31%
- Phone call 29%
- Face-to-face meeting 20%
- Social media 13%
Think of your virtual workspace as your office lounge or pantry where your team members can enjoy a little downtime and bond with each other. With this, the chances of miscommunication—interpersonal or task-related—will be lower.
Aside from the formal emails, create a virtual workspace using web applications like Skype and Slack. With these apps, you can create group chats and hold face-to-face meetings to keep your remote team updated on work-related matters—or just casually.
With a virtual workspace, you manage conflict in your remote team easily.
Related Article: 7 Ways to Effectively Manage Your Remote Team
Encourage individual catch-ups with each team member
One of the most effective ways to manage conflict in your remote team is through one-on-one conversations.
Sitting down and hearing out your team member's concerns is an incredibly effective way to help them resolve their issues, whether it's with you or with someone else within the team.
If the root of the conflict involves you:
Talk it out and find common ground where you can move towards resolving the issue.
When it's a conflict between coworkers:
Hear them all out—individually. After listening to all perspectives, examine the situation and figure out the best way to resolve the issue.
Major Tip: One of the best ways to prevent any major conflict from stirring up is by resolving the issue ASAP. By doing so, you can squash the problem before it gets any BIGGER.
The best way to do so is through face-to-face video calls—a more personal way of communicating with your remote staff. There is a sense of privacy and confidentiality that video calls can reach compared to other online communication platforms out there.
By encouraging one-on-one communication with each team member, you're able to build a more solid relationship with each individual. As a result, your remote team will feel more inclined to confide in you about their problems.
Managing conflict in your remote team is difficult, but it isn't impossible. By keeping these conflict management tips in mind, you can effectively resolve conflicts within your team despite the distance.
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