There are a lot of positives about moving to remote work. You lose the daily commute and gain back extra time for yourself. You can show up to work in your pajamas (unless you have a Zoom meeting). You can eat at your desk and microwave leftover fish without anybody complaining.
But remote work is not without its issues, including problems with sexual harassment. It’s probably no surprise to anybody that’s ever been on a forum like Reddit or Facebook that people seem to lose their sense of appropriate behavior and boundaries when they’re online.
That can, and does, turn into remote-workplace sexual harassment.
People are creative. That means that there’s virtually no limit to the ways they can torment others online (if they have a mind to do so). Some of the most common forms of online harassment include:
- Using private social media channels so that one group can make sexually explicit comments about another group of their co-workers
- Using social media, including LinkedIn and Facebook, to send colleagues sexual images or comments about their looks
- Having sexually explicit images or noises in their background while in Zoom or Skype meetings
- Openly masturbating during virtual meetings or asking co-workers for dates or sexual favors as a “joke”
- Sending obscene jokes, videos, memes or graphics to co-workers or subordinates through email, text or Messenger
It’s tough to know where to turn when you’ve been subjected to online harassment by a colleague. Start by reviewing your company’s handbook to look for instructions on what to do next. If asking for help doesn’t work (or you face retaliation for speaking up), find out more about your legal options.