Can Virtual Offices Help You Avoid Workplace Bullies?

DALLAS-Bullies are a real problem on the schoolyard and in the workplace. Can virtual offices help you avoid grown up bullies? Maybe so.

First, let’s look at the facts. A recent survey from the Australia’s House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education reveals almost one in three young people have been bullied or have witnessed bullying at work. Although this survey is specific to Australia, I imagine it rings fairly true in most countries.

"Thirteen percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 said they had been bullied at work, with another 19 percent having witnessed it,” says Janet Giles, SA Unions State Secretary.

"We know from our other work with young people that they are less familiar with their rights at work, and are more often in part-time or casual work where they worry that if they speak out they will lose their jobs."

She says what's most concerning about the survey is that 65 percent of the bullying is reported to have come from employers or managers. And that figure rises to 74 percent for those in part-time work.

"These are the people with the power to hire and fire, increasing the likelihood that young people will feel intimidated into remaining silent,” Giles says. "We clearly need stronger national laws against bullying to stop it happening in the first place, rather than dealing with it when it has already occurred."

So the question is, can working from a virtual office help you avoid bullies. The answer is yes and no. Working from a virtual office, you won’t have as many opportunities to interact with people who bully coworkers or employees. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t be bullied via e-mail, instant message or Skype.

Bullying is a widespread problem and virtual offices won’t solve it. But, in my view, people who work from virtual offices are less likely to run into the drama that swirls around the office bully.


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