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Telecommuting has invited toxic office behavior into the home

For several months now, companies have managed to establish a corporate culture even while their employees have been working remotely. But along with that, the toxic behavior of the office environment has often been imported into the home.

When an organization tolerates a toxic culture, regardless of its manifestation (meanness, incivility, aggressiveness, inappropriate pressure), it’s never confined to the actual office. This behavior knows no bounds. 

Plus, when there’s physical distance, toxic behavior spreads because so much information is lost in the translation – all those nonverbal signs that accompany our words, whether it’s voice tone or body language, are lost. It’s easy to misunderstand messages or take them the wrong way. And then there are the gossipy, negative side conversations that take place via text or chat during video conferences. Clearly, working remotely only serves to aggravate an organization’s toxic culture. 

So what can you do about it? 

  • Communicate: don’t overlook any member of your team, even those who rarely speak up. 
  • Set limits: establish a boundary between professional and personal life – there’s an appropriate time for everything. 
  • Be alert: learn how to recognize (aggressive) behavior that might only be the outward expression of teleworking exhaustion.  
  • Get help: speak to the people in your support system if you can’t solve organizational toxic behavior at your own level. 
  • Think of yourself: focus above all on your own energy. You won’t be able to solve anything if you don’t look after yourself. 
To go further

“What happens when toxic office behavior moves online while working from home”

by Jennifer Liu, (CNBC Make It, September 2020). 

Françoise Tollet
Published by Françoise Tollet
She spent 12 years in industry, working for Bolloré Technologies, among others. She co-founded Business Digest in 1992 and has been running the company since 1998. And she took the Internet plunge in 1996, even before coming on board as part of the BD team.