Working remotely does not automatically remove conflict and office politics. As long as there is communication, there will be conflict from time to time. Remote team conflict happens for the same reasons they happen in traditional office settings. These reasons include but are not limited to stress, communication problems, insecurity and individual differences. 

Remote team conflicts happen more often and can be more challenging to resolve than conflict among a physical team. As a team lead or employer, how can you manage and resolve remote team conflict?

Identify and Eliminate Communication Gaps

Since one major cause of remote team conflict are communication gaps, it is essential to start there. Figure out where communication among your remote team is failing and what steps you can take to fix it.

It could be that a remote worker does not get the information and resources they need to work at the right time. This might make them uncertain or even frustrated and can lead to interpersonal conflict. Getting to the root of communication gaps will help you figure out the best way to solve them and prevent it from happening again.

Lead By Example

One great way to manage and resolve remote team conflict is to be a good leader and avoid creating conflict yourself. Ensure to communicate effectively and provide all the resources and support your team needs to function effectively. Also, be mindful of what you say and how you speak to team members while mediating and settling disagreements. When you set procedures, follow them to the latter. This will help your team value and trust you.

Don’t Overlook Minor Issues

When issues come up, it is important to solve them as soon as possible. Dismissing seemingly minor matters will only lead to a larger problem in the near future. When employees choose to overlook an issue and remain quiet about it, they are inadvertently normalizing the other person’s wrong actions.

To avoid this, provide your employees with problem-solving and communication training. Also, make it a priority to mediate on issues when necessary and not dismiss minor issues as irrelevant or “office drama”.

Set Up a Conflict Management Process

Knowing that conflict is bound to arise among your remote team, you should endeavor to refer to your company’s set process for managing and resolving conflict. Having a process helps you easily identify brewing conflict and nip it in the bud before it escalates. You could consider following these three steps:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Objectively hear both/all parties out
  3. Reach and agree on a compromise and follow it up in writing. 

Encourage Team Bonding

Being a remote team does not entirely erase the possibilities of engaging in team bonding activities. Encourage your employees to develop a group mentality and always remember that everyone has the same goal: to contribute to your organization’s growth and development. When employees have a positive view about each other, it will be difficult for an individual to be skeptical of his/her teammate and always feel like they are being witch-hunted or picked upon. Even when there are communication gaps, the affected individual will feel the need to go out of their way to find out what went wrong because they know that they are not being intentionally excluded.

We advise that you involve every member of your team in regular meetings, communication updates and calls. This will help them feel like they belong, and they are seen. Give your team the opportunity to ask questions freely and show your gratitude to them for their hard work and good conduct. This helps them feel like they matter and will build trust both in you and in each other.

We hope you try these tips for resolving remote team conflict and wish you all the best in your remote team management efforts. 

If you have any tips that have helped you manage remote team conflict, feel free to share with us below. Click here for more remote team management tips.