Many workers welcomed the shift to a remote setup during the pandemic, and it’s easy to see why. Remote work presents a better work-life balance, removes the need to commute, and allows you to work from anywhere.
But if there’s one thing workers miss about working in the office, it’s the workplace banter. Workers miss conversing and sharing information while drinking coffee during breaks or going home from the office.
According to a study by Seyfarth Shaw, a Boston-based law firm, sixty-one percent (61%) of workers believe they’re missing out on in-person workplace conversations. And these conversations often feature workplace gossip.
That said, gossip hasn’t entirely disappeared in the remote workplace. Yes, it has diminished, but it has also evolved to match the current work setup.
So how did gossip adapt to the remote workplace?
What are the benefits and problems that come with gossip in organizations?
And how do you deal with gossip at work?
Find out as we discuss the subject further below.
How Did Gossip Evolve in the Remote Workplace?
Workplace gossip today, just like many workers, has gone digital. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as gossiping is one way workers gain information and bond with their colleagues.
So, how do they do it? Well, you have to be more proactive about approaching your co-workers.
For some, this means setting up a private group chat where they can safely discuss their work problems and concerns. Others, on the other hand, prefer conducting Zoom calls with their co-workers after hours to talk to one another.
Another change in gossip in the remote workplace is the kind of topics being discussed. Since it’s easy to see your co-workers’ schedules via Google Calendar, many gossip topics are often work-related.
The Benefits of Gossip in the Workplace.
Believe it or not, gossip isn’t an entirely negative thing. There is something called positive gossip.
This happens when information that helps improve a person’s image is shared with others. This helps create a sense of belonging and culture among employees in the workplace.
According to Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University and author of “Gossip, Grooming, and the Evolution of Language,” gossip is a powerful human impulse. And it is an impulse that we shouldn’t necessarily fight.
Positive gossip enables workers to keep tabs on their social circles when they don’t have time. This isn’t out of malice, as many think when they hear gossip, but to ensure we don’t say the wrong things when we meet someone.
The Problems Associated With Workplace Gossip.
Of course, whenever someone hears of gossip, they usually think of the problems that come with it.
And the most significant among these problems is the loss of trust among employees.
Gossip creates mistrust as employees constantly have to watch their backs to ensure that nobody’s talking about them or their friends. Once people discover that one of their co-workers is talking behind their backs, they won’t likely trust that co-worker anymore.
This can have grave consequences on collaboration amongst employees, as they won’t know who to trust. As a result, employees might become more insular and stick with the people they regularly interact with in fear of being the subject of gossip.
In addition, spreading rumors via gossip can permanently damage a person’s reputation in the workplace. At its worst, it can even cause the person subjected to these rumors to leave the company to save face.
What to Do When You’re the Subject of Workplace Gossip
Being the subject of gossip is not a good experience. You have to constantly watch your back, and you don’t know who to trust among your co-workers.
So, what can you do about it? Here are some tips to help you out:
Talk Directly to the Gossipers.
The first step you should take is to confront the people talking behind your back and politely ask them to stop. Doing so prevents things from further escalating and, hopefully, puts an end to the gossip about you.
Address the Cause of the Gossip.
When we become the subject of gossip, our first reaction is to become defensive and angry. Yes, this is a valid response, but you shouldn’t forget to address why your co-workers are talking behind your back in the first place.
Let’s say your gossipers are talking about your productivity at work. In that case, why not prove them wrong by being more productive at work? Doing this should silence your gossipers and prove you’re no pushover.
And when you’re confronting your gossiping co-workers, don’t forget to ask them how you can do better and ask for feedback directly.
Bring The Matter Up to Your Manager.
If talking to your gossiping co-workers doesn’t work, maybe it’s time to bring this matter to your manager. Your manager can thus bring them to heel and tell them to stop.
Hey, Did You Know That…
Although it has been significantly lessened due to the nature of remote work, gossip remains part of the remote workspace. It just moved from the breakroom to Skype or Slack group chats.
So if you miss chika time with your co-workers, just set up a private group chat for a harmless catch-up.
If you’re looking for remote work opportunities, I have chika for you. Remote Staff is the place to go if you’re searching for online jobs. Our jobs list contains a wide range of positions for you to apply to, so you won’t run out of options. Good luck!