Working Capital - Mission Blog

<<Mission Blog Home Posted: 07-19-2021

We have all been there. Stuck in a toxic work environment. Whether it’s an overbearing boss, bad ownership, or petty peers, a toxic work environment can be debilitating.

We were curious to see how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the toxic work environment. On the surface, it would appear that being free to work from home would reduce the stress of toxicity. After all, we wouldn’t have to face the causes of our stress in person and could, in effect, hide from the problem.

Unfortunately, there is some evidence that the exact opposite occurred. According to this article from the BBC, working from home does not solve the problem. This is for a couple of reasons.

  • First, bad bosses have access to tracking software that checks on employee activity. Management walking around the office has been replaced by a Big Brother-type of surveillance. Taking a fifteen-minute mental health break can lead to nasty texts or other digital prods.
  • The second issue is one we have all likely experienced online. The power of anonymity. In this situation, your boss or co-workers are not hiding behind a benign avatar. Instead, they are more empowered to be mean or nasty because they do not have to look you in the eye. Emails and texts offer a level of protection for these types of passive-aggressive behaviors.

This is not to say that these situations occur in every toxic environment. However, chances are that distance is not a panacea.

During the depths of the pandemic, many of us were suffering from digital fatigue. The grind of incessant Zoom calls, the lack of social contact, and the fear of the unknown combined to drastically increase stress levels. This just made working in a toxic environment even worse. Studies showed that – at the time – many of us yearned to get back in the office.

We now know that after more than a year away from the physical workplace, most of us kind of like the new arrangement. At the very least, we will likely see wider adoption of the hybrid work model – something most companies never heard of before March 2020.

If your workplace was toxic before the pandemic, it will likely remain that way when you are back at your desk. Unless the root cause of the toxicity has been eliminated, things will return to “normal”.

So, what can you do to cope? Here are seven tips from

  • Don’t stoop to a toxic colleague’s level. In other words, don’t spread gossip.
  • Leave your work stress at the door.
  • Seek out positive co-workers.
  • Practice how to confront.
  • Build trust.
  • Leave your job or change departments.
  • Find ways to relieve stress outside of work.

You can get more details here.

A toxic work environment directly leads to stress-induced behaviors like insomnia, substance abuse, and more. Ironically, some of the freedoms we gained by working from home may help us cope with or, better yet, combat workplace toxicity.

Working Capital, Goodwill mission blog author
This article was written by: Steve Allan

Leave a Comment

Goodwill of Greater Washington stores and donation centers transform lives and communities by supporting our free career and employment services for people with disabilities and disadvantages.

Back to Top
Follow Us!