Culture and Talent, Member Exclusive

‘Be explicit about civility’: Working from home, companies increasingly combat toxic communication

  • Working from home is becoming the new normal during Covid-19.
  • 38% of employees have experienced toxic communication through digital channels, according to a recent survey.
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‘Be explicit about civility’: Working from home, companies increasingly combat toxic communication

COVID-19 has made working from home the new normal for many companies. As entire offices shifted to working from home, employees find themselves spending more time in video conferencing, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other tools.

But new platforms bring new challenges. 38% of employees have reported experiencing toxic communication through these new channels of communication, including bullying and racist and sexist comments. That’s according to a new study, conducted by Writer, an AI writing assistant for teams. The company conducted a cross industry survey of over 1,000 employees to explore how workplace communication has changed as a result of working from home.

With this new environment comes new ways for toxic behavior to manifest, said May Habib, founder and CEO of Writer.

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“Now that so much of our communication is asynchronous and it’s in these new non-personal, non-live, non-real-life channels, it shouldn’t be a surprise that toxic communication has made it to those channels as well, and in many ways it’s actually made it easier for people to be mean to each other,” said Habib.

Like other disruptive behaviors in the workplace, naming what constitutes toxic communication is a good first step. Companies can fight toxic behavior by being totally open about what qualifies as appropriate behavior and what absolutely does not. “Be explicit about civility,” she said. “It is a value. Don’t tolerate aggressive communication.”

Oxygen Bank, a new challenger bank which now has more than 30 employees, uses a no-nonsense approach to toxic communication when it hires new workers.


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