Although businesses saw a successful transition to remote working and were able to run things almost as normal, this meant that workplace misconduct didn’t stay in the office either.
Whistleblowing service Your Call actually reported an increase in misconduct allegations during the year.
Workplace investigator and director at dispute resolution organisation, Worklogic, Jason Clark says, “We’re still seeing bullying, still seeing harassment, discrimination, fraud to a certain extent, and sexual harassment. I don’t think having a remote workforce changes the circumstances.”
As an EA, you need to be your executives eyes and ears in the workplace and they might not always have the time to witness anything unusual in the company. The Australian HR Institute recommends three steps to handling workplace misconduct in the remote office.
Spot the Symptoms
- Keep an eye out for lack of engagement, increased absences, minor disputes, and increased tension between colleagues.
- Be open to employees’ emotions: you can usually tell when someone wants to tell you something but doesn’t. Check in with staff if you have any inklings and start a conversation.
- Report any findings or suspicions to your executive.
- If an employee comes forward with a complaint, set up a meeting/conversation with that person to ensure your executive has all the correct facts so they can determine whether an investigation is necessary.
- Allow the complainant to bring along a support person, e.g. start a group call.
- Make sure the misconduct policy is followed, the structure of it should still be applicable to remote working.
- Most investigations will have three stages: engaging with the complainant, collating evidence, and finally engaging the respondent (the person the complaint is about).
- Remember, it is important that all parties are given the same treatment. To get to the bottom of the issue, all sides of the story must be heard before your executive can conclude the investigation.