Conflict, in general, isn't something unheard of in the workplace. After all, when you put diverse groups of people together, there's bound to be disagreements stemming from different perspectives. But now that most of us are working remotely, how does workplace conflict look like? 

According to a survey by MyPerfectResume, 80% of remote professionals have experienced workplace conflict.

So, which groups of professionals are experiencing conflict while working from home?

Interestingly, gender did not play much of a role in remote work conflict engagement, with 82% of men and 80% of women having experienced remote work conflict.

By education level, while we would think that the highly-educated professionals would be less likely to start conflicts, there is in fact, a positive correlation between education level and degree of remote conflict involvement. This means that as the education level went up, so did the conflict quotient:

  • Master's degree or doctorate: 87%
  • Bachelor's degree: 83%
  • Some college, no degree: 73%
  • High school degree: 63%

By industry, those in healthcare were much more involved in disputes than those in education:

  • Healthcare: 23%
  • Business & Finance: 21%
  • Manufacturing: 13%
  • Software/IT: 12%
  • Education: 9%

Who workers are exchanging blows with? For the most part, it's among coworkers

The survey found that most workers (65%) experienced conflict with their coworkers.

Interestingly, the second most common virtual fights happen with bosses (19%), followed by external managers (11%), and 5% had a conflict with an employee working at another company.

The top sources of these conflicts - work stress (25%), lack of teamwork (25%), and rude behaviour (22%). Other causes of conflict include "lack of transparency/honesty about something important" (18%), a "clash of values" (9%) and a "false accusation" (2%).

By generation, Gen-Xers had the most remote conflict issues because of lack of teamwork - 33% as compared with 28% of Millennials. 

By years of work experience, teamwork issues selected as the primary source of conflict for:

  • 43% of those with 20+ years of experience.
  • 30% of professionals with 11-20 years of experience.
  • 25% of employees with 3-5 years of experience.
  • 22% of staff with 6-10 years of experience.
  • 21% of respondents with 1-2 years of experience.

The most common battle arena - work messaging apps such as Slack, Google Hangouts, or Trello

When asked which platform they were using during the conflict, most respondents (46%) revealed that they were using a work messaging app, such as Slack, Google Hangouts, or Trello.

Other common platforms for conflict were video conferencing calls with verbal interactions (37%) and non-work messaging apps 11%). While only 6% used a video conferencing platform to exchange testy text messages.

Asked about the worst things said during work-from-home conflicts, respondents shared 1,376 stinging comments which consisted of blatantly offensive curses and insults. Many spoke of being humiliated in front of others, while others shared that comments that were blatantly racist and sexist. 

For instance, 10 shared comments containing "the B-word" 15 said that the "the F-word" was used, while 11 reported the use of the word "idiot".

Further, a few women reported being told they were "too fat," while one said she was told that since she was a woman she "probably can't work the new technology properly." At the same time, one African American disclosed: "They accused me of using my race (I'm Black) to 'get in good' with HR."

More than half face repercussions from their managers 

Thankfully, the survey revealed that these aggressors were mostly taken to task, with a whopping 62% of respondents reported receive repercussions from their managers.

Interestingly, although veterans were the ones who had the most conflict based on teamwork (43%), they were the least likely to get into trouble for workplace squabbles.

A scant 13% of those with 20+ years only got into trouble for their remote workplace conflicts, whereas 53% of those with 6-10 years got some backlash. Just 23% of those with the least amount of experience (1-2 years) had repercussions.

Of those who got into trouble, 53% were reprimanded or warned, and 33% were fired. Nothing much was the response–or lack thereof–for 14%

Boss vs. Employee: What are the repercussions?

When asked about fights with the boss, 36% of respondents reported that their bosses were too aggressive in their texts.

The outcomes from employer-employee conflicts were varied, ranging from talking it through to quitting the job: 

  • We talked about it and tried to resolve it. (49%)
  • We never tried to resolve it. (21%)
  • I left the company due to this conflict. (20%)
  • A third-party mediated this conflict. (8%)
  • I hate my boss and can't talk to him or her. (1%)

When it comes to repercussions, interestingly, bosses punished men more than women for these clashes - 59% of men had repercussions from their bosses compared with 48% of women.

By years of experience, those with the most experience had the least amount of retribution from bosses they conflicted with: 

  • 6-10 years of experience: 79%
  • 3-5 years: 65%
  • 11-20 years: 37%
  • 20+ years: 28% 

Scroll through the infographic for a summary of the results. 

 infographics conflict 2

infographic 1

Methodology

MyPerfectResume surveyed 1,001 respondents online via a bespoke polling tool on their experiences with workplace conflict. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question. The study was created through several steps of research, crowdsourcing, and surveying.

Infographic / MyPerfectResume

Lead photo / 123RF

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