There’s always been workplace conflict, and it’s only natural for disagreements to eventually emerge when people work closely together for most of their lives, despite the time and resources some companies invest in avoiding and mitigating these conflicts.

But workplace conflict isn’t restricted to the physical office. There are more sources of coworker clashes than someone eating a coworker’s lunch out of the fridge or talking too loudly in the next cubicle.

Plenty of conflict can and does happen virtually among remote employees.

Conflict in a Remote Environment

MyPerfectResume recently surveyed 1,000 employees across the United States about their remote work conflict experiences, and the results are enlightening.

While one might assume conflict is far less common in a remote work setting, the survey results indicate that roughly 80% of remote workers have experienced workplace conflict.

There isn’t great data around workplace conflict generally, so it’s difficult to identify a stat for comparison, but MyPerfectResume points to a 2008 survey of 5,000 employees in the United States and Europe across all work arrangements that found 85% experienced workplace conflict. That’s only slightly higher than the remote workers, but again, it’s not a perfect comparison. Suffice it to say, 80% of remote workers who’ve experienced office conflict is strong evidence that conflict has no problem thriving in a remote environment.

Sources of Conflict

Despite the different setting, the sources of remote work conflict are likely quite familiar: a lack of teamwork, stress about work, rude behavior, or the lack of transparency or honesty about something important.

This survey suggests workplace conflict isn’t restricted to the physical workplace. The challenge for managers and others responsible for resolving conflicts is that communication is generally more challenging in a remote work setting, despite considerable advances in telecommunications technology. This means resolving conflicts once they occur can be particularly challenging.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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