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The challenges of whistleblowing in the time of remote working

  • 10th June 2020

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more of us are working remotely. Employees have been setting up workspaces in spare rooms, on dining tables and in sheds, giving a truly impressive demonstration into how businesses can adapt to survive in uncertain times.

What effects will remote working give on whistleblowing?

Whilst plenty of businesses have extolled the benefits of remote working, there's never been a situation that has required the majority of the workforce to continue with their work whilst being away from the workplace indefinitely, and such under stressful conditions. 

It's not inconceivable that such a dramatic shift in the norm and a break in the line management will see an increase in misconduct. For that reason you must consider the possible changes in mindset when it comes to Speaking-up.

What does that mean? Well, any distance from the usual management structure and the day-to-day of office life is likely to have one of two consequences:

  • Being outside of the workplace may create a lack of urgency when it comes to reporting wrongdoing, an 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality that could go as far as rationalising some misconduct as being a product of exceptional circumstances.

  • Some employees may take the opposite view, feeling a greater sense of security due to their satellite status. Such reporting isn't always limited to current, or recent events, but the culmination of long-held suspicions, with Speaking-up coming as the result of the confidence afforded to them by distance.

Attitudes will differ between individual team members, so it's important that a company reaches out across the board.

What can businesses do to provide assurance to whistleblowers?

The first, and most important thing to do right now is to make sure that you  have a robust and trusted reporting mechanism in place and that staff  know about it

  • Continue to be present, or become more visible. You don't need to suddenly start micromanaging your employees, but checking in and making sure everyone is happy in what they're doing will make a big difference.
  • Follow up with clear and concise communications around Speaking-up. Let your employees know about any changes to the process.. This will let you reinforce the idea that malpractice should not be allowed to slide, and that you continue to listen and value those who raise concerns.
  • Update your code of conduct to more accurately reflect remote working situations.
  • Remind all employees that your Speak-up service is still available at this time. If necessary, remind them of how the system works.
  • Provide eLearning to reinforce what whistleblowing is and why it is important to Speak-up

The need for remote working has affected all businesses, but that doesn't mean that you can't continue to support those who bring their concerns forward, and take action against malpractice.

Get in touch

To find out more about implementing a whistleblowing hotline that can be used by remote workers, get in touch with Safecall today.