Avoiding Workplace Violence in Virtual Offices

NEW YORK—I read a shocking report today that made me glad I work from a virtual office. "Violence in the American Workplace," a report from AlliedBarton Security Services, reveals that more than half of Americans employed outside their homes have witnessed, heard about or have experienced a violent event or an event that can lead to violence at their workplace.

These events include open hostility, abusive language or threats and can escalate to significant physical harm to someone by another person. Even more significant is that 28 percent of workers report a violent event or one that can lead to violence happened to them at their current place of employment or they have been personally affected by this type of event. Overall, 12 percent have witnessed, heard about or are aware of an incidence of significant physical harm to another person, and 5 percent have had this happen to them or have been personally affected by this type of incident.

"Workplace violence often starts as verbal assaults or harassment and can escalate into threatening behavior, bullying, physical assaults and even, in some instances, deadly encounters," says Bill Whitmore, chairman, president and CEO of AlliedBarton Services. "With the significant increase in unemployment in the past several years and the downturn in the economy, there is every reason to believe that these incidents may increase.”

The disturbing study results go on and on. And the survey continues to reference people who are “employed outside their homes.” Working from a virtual office can cut down the exposure to workplace violence tremendously. At worst, a hostile e-mail from an angry coworker is nowhere near as intimidating or dangerous as open hostility in the workplace.

Until now, I had never considered that one of the benefits of working from a virtual office is avoiding workplace violence. I guess that’s because I didn’t realize how prevalent workplace violence. Obviously, everyone can’t work from a virtual office. But if you do work form a virtual office, you have one more reason to be thankful.


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