Over the last 15 years, the term cyberbullying has been synonymous with the adolescent and teenage experience. However, the pandemic has made this phenomenon more prominent in the workplace.
Because remote and hybrid work have altered what the definition of the “office” is, the way colleagues interact has completely transformed – for better or worse.
For communication worker Joyce, the idea of bullying usually involved “somebody getting in your face.” But as time at her remote job went on, she realized that her new boss was saying things that made her feel uneasy.
“It would be a group email where I would say one thing and she’d come back with another, or she would put me on the spot in a Zoom meeting without any prior warning,” said Joyce.
Joyce also claims her boss would change all of her work-related social media passwords and received backlash for pushing back against ideas from the boss.
While Joyce was a loyal member of the company for years, the pleasure she felt at her job quickly dissipated in the matter of six months.
Bullying at work is certainly not a new concept, but the shift to a more distributed workforce can make this harassment both more common and harder to report. In fact, remote work may have caused remote bullying to look more subtle, allowing it to thrive.
According to a 2021 survey from The Workplace Bullying Institute, 43% of remote workers respondents reported experiencing workplace bullying through video calls and email. It also showed that the pandemic exacerbated the likelihood of cyberbullying incidents.
In short, without directly addressing this mounting problem, remote companies could quickly be faced with serious cultural issues. More concerning, the survey showed that managers were responsible for 47% of bullying.
To effectively avoid creating a culture of harassment, managers have a critical role in modeling ideal work behavior and creating an easy process of reporting such harassment.