Virtual Workplace Investigations Are The “Next Normal”

November 2, 2020

Workplace Misconduct Continues but in Different Forms Post-COVID

COVID-19 has abruptly sent corporations and their workforces into an indefinite state of remote work. Modern offices and gatherings are still considered dangerous, and depending on where your company is situated, a large group of employees could lead to fines and penalties.

Many forms of workplace harassment still occur, even without employees in a physical office space. Racism, bullying, and general misconduct continue to appear in emails, video calls, and social media posts. Although many things have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an employer’s obligation to maintain a safe work environment has not.

Virtual Workplace Investigations Should Experience No Delay

With the sudden shift to a remote world, HR professionals and business owners must also adapt. Companies are scrambling to bring entire workforces online, revise their hiring practices, and ensure that they are keeping employees safe. Unfortunately, some companies might fall behind on their due diligence while being occupied with COVID-related issues.

A postponement of a remote workplace investigation could leave a company in legal trouble. Any delay in the completion of an investigation could obscure the validity of witnesses, hurt the trust between the employer and the complainant, and possibly the entire workforce.

Virtual investigations have emerged as a key tool to protect a businesses’ integrity, maintain trust between employee and employer and ensure that a company succeeds in meeting its legal obligation to provide a safe workplace free from harassment.

Face-to-Face Business Might Be a Thing of the Past

As the workforce begins to adjust to a "new normal," the “next normal” might be a complete revision of outdated business practices. Expect to see business owners rethink how things were done pre-COVID, adapting on the fly, and opting to keep their employees grounded.

Meetings that were once completed face-to-face will be heading online, including workplace investigations for things like sexual violence, harassment, insurance benefit fraud, policy breaches, and code of conduct violations. The new normal for investigations is now virtual, which doesn’t come without its own pros and cons.

Capturing the Fine Details During a Virtual Workplace Investigation

"Virtual investigations are a game-changer in this pandemic world," said Jim Rovers, Senior Vice President of AFIMAC Canada.

"On the one hand, it is much easier to conduct an interview remotely, but many body language queues are difficult to detect during a remote investigation."

Rovers mentions that many interview subjects are relieved to conduct an interview at home rather than in a boardroom. Some difficult topics that may arise during the investigation might be easier to discuss remotely instead of in-person. However, some subjects that are part of a virtual investigation might be too relaxed and need to be reminded of the seriousness of the situation.

“What we do is gather the facts,” Rover added. “We are not there to interrogate. We gather unbiased details to help get to the bottom of a situation and help our clients make an informed decision.”

“Remote investigations follow the same practices as in-person investigations, maintaining the same level of integrity and professionalism throughout the entire process."

Trust AFIMAC to Conduct Virtual Workplace Investigations

The threats that a company faces continues to grow. AFIMAC's corporate investigative services have proven time and again as an invaluable tool to protect a company from losses of all kinds, both from inside and outside the company.

Our licensed investigators specialize in workplace investigations, presenting unbiased evidence that can withstand the scrutiny of both the courts and insurance companies. Contact us directly to learn more.
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