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Workplace Investigations are Quickly Adapting to Address Digital Misconduct
May 31, 2021
Workplace Investigations for Remote Workforces; Points to Consider
The rise of remote work has quickly forced workplace investigations into the digital age. With more employees working from home and teams collaborating across different jurisdictions, remote investigators have had to adjust their approach to ensure proper compliance and privacy. Further, harassment and misconduct have turned digital, and behavior issues have remained despite office spaces being closed, potentially permanently.
Harassment and misconduct still exist even without a physical office, and workplace investigations have had to adapt to new and complex issues among remote workforces.
Workplace Investigations Address Digital Harassment, Cyberbullying, and Remote Work Misconduct
Workplace bullying and harassment haven’t gone away despite entire workforces shifting to a remote environment. While traditional office cooler gossip has ended, digital forums and portals can fuel speculation and rumors among employees and be a breeding ground for offensive and inappropriate material. When an employee shares what they think is a harmless joke on an online platform, it could possibly be rooted in racism or misogyny. The result could be a potential HR disaster and may warrant a workplace investigation, as digital misconduct becomes more common among remote professionals.
Now, harassment and misconduct have shifted online in the forms of inappropriate comments on video calls or messaging apps. Employees that have been isolated for extended periods of time have seen their health and wellbeing strained by the ongoing pandemic. The potential for drug and alcohol use during work hours is high among remote workforces, and the lack of social interaction can lead to digital misconduct that could warrant a workplace investigation or litigation.
Remote Workplace Investigations Shift to Virtual Confidentiality
Now workplace investigations have had to quickly adapt to this new nature of remote and digital misconduct. Investigators have been challenged to ensure that their work remains confidential, even if an investigation is done remotely.
Investigators that work from home must now consider the role of their own workspace and if their home office is appropriate for conducting a sensitive workplace investigation. Confidential information, including key details of an investigation, could possibly be overheard during a remote interview by other members of an investigator's home. Spouses, children, or anyone else in the home can compromise the integrity of an investigation should sensitive conversations be overheard.
Further, investigators will also have to consider how they can manage the printing of sensitive documents at home, their use of personal devices, and the safety and privacy of their home network. Today, workplace investigators must take extra steps to ensure that their information or WI-FI isn’t being intercepted while protecting sensitive documents with complex encryption and security.
Maintaining strict confidentiality in a home office comes with unique challenges as one innocent mistake could accidentally reveal personal employee information related to a delicate investigation.
Workplace Investigations and the Recording of Remote Witness Interviews
There are also many privacy considerations for recording remote witness interviews. With the emergence of remote video conferencing tools, investigators now need to explore the legalities of recording their investigations across multiple jurisdictions. Depending on where the investigator is and where the witness is located, there could be different laws regarding the consent of having a video or phone call recorded.
In some provinces and states, only one party needs to be aware that the conference is being recorded; compared to some other jurisdictions, a witness will have to consent to have their call recorded. Investigators will have to consider various privacy laws and navigate these complexities should investigations span across different states, provinces, or countries.
Trust AFIMAC to Conduct Remote Workplace Investigations
Today, companies face increasing threats as workplace misconduct heads into the digital age. AFIMAC's corporate investigative services have proven to be an invaluable tool to protect a business from any loss, both inside and outside the company.
Our licensed investigators specialize in workplace investigations and are experienced in dealing with some of the most difficult topics, presenting unbiased evidence that can withstand the scrutiny of both the courts and insurance companies. Protect your people and property with service offerings from AFIMAC and address digital misconduct in your remote workforce.
Contact us directly to learn more about available workplace investigation solutions.