What Defines a Workplace?

Human Resources, Training

When you hear the word “workplace,” you probably think of it in a very traditional way. It’s where you work, right? Not always. When it comes to human resources issues such as harassment in the workplace, the definition of “workplace” becomes very broad. With many companies continuing to embrace remote work, now is a good time to remind your employees what “workplace” means as it applies to harassment.

What Defines a Workplace?

Within the context of harassment in the workplace, a “workplace” can refer to a physical worksite, a remote location, online, a client’s office, a customer’s home, or even an establishment completely unrelated to work.

Why Is This Definition Important?

Harassment isn’t always restricted to the confines of an established work environment. As an employer, you have a responsibility to protect your employees from harassment, even when the behavior occurs after work hours or in another location. This includes harassment that occurs electronically via texts or email or through social media. It also includes harassment that occurs with an employee and another work-related individual outside of the traditional work environment. Harassment can happen almost anywhere. Many cases of harassment are based on events that happen in informal environments, when employees are more likely to let their guard down.

What Does Harassment Look Like?

It sometimes may be harder to recognize workplace harassment when it takes place outside the traditional workplace environment. Here are just a few examples:

  • Inappropriate images are sent via personal cell phones and after work hours.
  • An employee is propositioned by a supplier at a convention or trade show.
  • As employee is teased by a co-worker about social media posts.
  • An employee is required to attend a meeting at an uncomfortable location.
  • An employee is exposed to offensive images sent by a co-worker at a location away from work.
  • An employee is subject to inappropriate behavior at a holiday party or vendor event.

Take a look at this example of harassment that occurs outside the workplace:


Inappropriate behavior that takes place outside the traditional work environment will often have an impact on how employees are able to work together, and that is why it’s considered a form of harassment in the workplace. Encourage your employees to report all instances of harassment, and make sure people in management positions are aware of their obligation to investigate all harassment claims. Harassment of any kind threatens your corporate culture and is unacceptable anywhere.

Prevent Harassment with Online Training

Training your employees on what harassment in the workplace looks like, how to report it, and how to intervene when appropriate will help prevent harassment. The more information employees have, the more empowered they will be. Start training your employees on harassment prevention today.

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