Workplace conflict in lockdown

It’s little wonder that conflict mediation services are reporting an uptick in demand for their services currently.

The cocktail of effects on the brain of social isolation (impaired decision making, social skills, mood control and ability to deal with stress) is not exactly helpful to people coping with the additional challenges of life and work during the pandemic.

It makes effective and timely management of workplace conflict more critical than ever.

How working from home can contribute to conflict

Tensions between colleagues under pressure are common at the best of times. But working from home means people lose their ability to spot the early signs of discord in body language and atmosphere, or to receive an informal tip-off.  It’s also more difficult to sort things out. The chance of an informal word at the coffee point or a heart-to-heart in the pub is no longer an option.  Things can and do rapidly escalate.

Weakened support structures for those struggling with conflict (ready access to a colleague or manager or to social opportunities to let off steam), see the usual impact multiplying into debilitating levels of stress and anxiety.

In the early phase of the pandemic, putting such matters on hold in the hope that things would soon return to normal was understandable. But now that it’s clear normal working is not to be for a while yet, waiting is not an option.

How online workplace mediation can help

Workplace mediation can be done either partly or fully online. Whilst having everyone physically in the same space is certainly preferable, in our experience the many benefits of high-quality mediation generally outweigh the limitations of doing it remotely.

Zoom has proved to be an excellent platform, enabling us to replicate features of the mediation process very well. Online mediation also lends itself to flexing the step-by-step process where necessary to meet clients’ needs. And for some participants, not having to be in the same room as the other person feels like a bonus.

In whatever form, mediation offers the chance for people in conflict to quickly address the problem with some expert, neutral help. As mediators we can support the participants, and their isolation-strained brains, to better understand what has happened and work out an acceptable way forward.

If you need help to sort out a work conflict quickly and effectively, please get in touch.

October 2020

How mediation can help at work workplace imageImage of three female colleagues in a meeting room