Focal Point Training Menu Toggle Image
Accreditations for Focal Point Training Development
Give Focal Point Training a Call today to start your management training

Blog - Inappropriate behaviour amplified in lockdown

Inappropriate behaviour amplified in lockdown

Posted by Tracy Powley 15/09/20

Woman at desk

So much has been written about how well teams have adapted and how collaboration is thriving since the pandemic, we would be forgiven for thinking that workplaces have suddenly rid themselves of any inappropriate behaviour.

But research out in the last few weeks tells a very different story.

Far from inappropriate behaviour disappearing, it is actually becoming worse in a number of ways, threatening to undermine all the positives we may have initially seen.

  • Behavox who analyse data from surveillance organisations in the financial services sector have shown inappropriate language (racist, sexist) is rising amongst remote workers since lockdown 
  • 35 % of women have reported experiencing at least one sexist demand (such as inappropriate comments about their dress) from their employer since March (research Slater and Gordon)  

Why is this happening? 

Blurred lines..... 

  • Lines are so much more blurred between work and home life. Working from home has meant that we could be talking to colleagues in their bedrooms for example 
  • Working from home may be giving people a sense of privacy that is leading to more candid conversations - chatting to a colleague in your study or at your kitchen table could feel far more private than sitting in an open plan office 
  • Communication channels are seen as more casual - if you use Whatsapp to chat to your family and friends but are also in a group to discuss things with work colleagues, it is easy to see how the familiarity of one could seep into the other
  • Working hours have become more fluid as people juggle competing priorities - and this means you could be chatting to a colleague on Slack or via email late into the evening

This lack of clarity around behavioural boundaries means it is easier than ever for people to overstep the mark.

Concerns around job security and heightened emotions around the political landscape will all be adding to the pressure people are feeling at work and potentially driving inappropriate comments and behaviour.       

And these worries also shut people down. The research from Slater and Gordon revealed that 60% of women didn’t report the requests to dress more provocatively to HR. Instead they went along with the request, fearing a negative impact on their career. 

What should organisations do? 

The research shows there is a need now more than ever to help people understand where the lines are between what is Ok and what isn’t.

We see so many articles espousing the need for polices in this area. But the reality is that policies are simply not enough. We have to get people talking about these grey areas.

And we have to ensure our people believe they will be supported if they are made to feel uncomfortable in any way.

If you only do one thing to start to address this rise in inappropriate behaviour, make it this. Hold a team discussion where you open up views on what is appropriate and what is inappropriate behaviour at work - both in a face to face and a remote working context.  Agree some actions as a result. A great way to do this is to create a team charter - how we work together.

But don’t sit back and think “that doesn’t happen here” - the statistics suggest it probably does... and your staff will be negatively impacted as a result.

Take a look at our case studies page to see how we work with a range of organisations to bring clarity to this area. 

For more Information on how we can help you open up discussions with your teams around behaviour and communication in the workplace call us on 01903 732782, email or contact us. 

All our workshops can be run virtually via video conference platforms - so we can support your needs even while people continue to work remotely.

Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

comments powered by Disqus