While many companies are now returning to some amount of in-person work, many others will adopt virtual operations for some or all of their business. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have already laid plans for a hybrid workforce, and in academia, we’re seeing the benefits of virtual meetings via increased attendance and ease of participation for remote employees. However, leaders will need to understand the social implications (both good and bad) of cyber work before adopting it long term.

Of particular concern is how diverse teams can come together, forge connections, and collaborate effectively in online environments. Our research on selective incivility — subtle slights, interruptions, and disregard experienced by women, members of racial minorities, and other marginalized employees — demonstrates that incivility is damaging to performance and deteriorates team functioning. Virtual spaces are uniquely susceptible to this form of insidious behavior, as online team meetings, chatrooms, and team management spaces provide ample opportunity for disrespect to thrive. Managers need to be keenly aware of how incivility manifests online in order to create spaces that include all voices and diverse contributions.

What Managers Can Do

Make the expectation for respectful interactions explicit. Although leaders often feel as though addressing social norms is superfluous to productivity, we know that time spent ruminating, seeking support, or retaliating following rude interactions is time and money wasted for organizations. Furthermore, Dr. Lilia Cortina of the University of Michigan and her colleagues detail the human costs of incivility: physiological damage including impaired memory, increased cardiovascular activity, and disruption of insulin production. All of this adds up to more sick leave, increased mental health concerns, and negative spillover into family relationships.

Read the full article at Harvard Business Review.