Building trust is essential for everyone, whether you’re a remote employee, a member of a hybrid team, or a leader. High-trust company culture can lead to positive work outcomes, such as higher productivity, increased collaboration, less stress and burnout, and lower staff turnover.
But, trust is not there by default – the employees and the employers must work together to develop mutually trusting relationships.
Building trust between colleagues or bosses is somewhat easier in a face-to-face setting. On the practical level, if you consistently show up at work on time, complete your tasks perfectly, help others out, and have a friendly demeanour – you’re a trusted colleague.
Meanwhile, establishing and cultivating trust remotely is challenging because we have fewer opportunities to socialise with colleagues. Therefore, any little hiccup, such as being five minutes late to a Zoom meeting, can be taken as a negative cue.
So, if you’re wondering how to establish and foster a positive and trust-fuelled remote working environment, continue reading this article.
Six Ways How to Build Trust in Remote Teams
- Get To Know Each Other Virtually
Organisations are on a hiring spree for remote employees. In practical terms, remote openings rose by 12% in 2021 compared to 2020, meaning more and more people are joining companies without ever stepping foot in the physical offices. But, if the rest of the colleagues are still working on-site, the chances of bonding and forming trust-based relationships are almost non-existent.
Managers of hybrid or fully remote teams need to take responsibility and lead the new approaches to engage and connect employees. And there’s no better way to do so than tapping into remote team-building activities to break the ice and build more cohesive connections.
- Inspire a Sense Of Unity
Geographically dispersed employees can often struggle to function effectively due to the lack of a clear mission, unclear understanding of their role within the organisation, and non-existence of shared rituals.
Indeed, it can get lonely working remotely, which can quickly transpire into slacking and unintentional isolation. If your coworkers begin to notice your withdrawal symptoms, they may suspect something is awry.
Like in an on-site working environment, leaders of remote teams must play the strengths and weaknesses of their employees, enabling them to make meaningful contributions toward shared organisational goals.
- Instil Clear Guidelines and Response Times
Lack of leadership and clear guidance in remote environments is a no-no. Yet the ground rules are rarely agreed upon from the beginning, which causes reliability and accountability issues in the long run.
Both office employees and managers must acknowledge that remote staff work within different parameters and might have pressing issues during the day. It’s common for teleworkers to be offline – that doesn’t mean that they can’t deliver quality work or meet deadlines. It’s simply the nature of remote work, though office employees might not see it that way.
Thus, as a leader, you must evaluate the virtual team’s work in light of the final output rather than judge their way of managing workload. In addition, you should also strive to minimise uncertainty and ensure fairness in the way you hold both in-house and remote teams accountable.
- Drop Pesky Micromanagement and Empower Employees to Exercise Their Judgement
Micromanagement can be bothersome for virtual staff members, playing into decreasing levels of trust between two parties and a toxic work environment.
Numerous managers confess that they have no experience managing remote-first organisations; thus, they resort to controlling behaviours, unintentionally killing the spirits of their remote teams.
The truth is that being under the microscope instils fear, making employees less productive and motivated. They simply won’t trust you because they feel that you don’t trust them!
As a leader, think if there are objective reasons you don’t have confidence in your virtual staff and work on employee empowerment and flexible working practices.
Let your team take charge of how and when they work, but make it clear what is expected of them. If you want to create a mutually trusting relationship, manage outcomes, not time-in-seat (or online).
- Consider Metaverse for Work
Natural interactions, similar to those seen in the office, are essential factors lacking in remote teams. The chats on the office floor, away from our desks, are where we earn and give trust.
These water fountain or next-to-the-printer moments, or even a brief 5-minute chat near the whiteboard in the conference room, allow people to open up on a more intimate level.
So, how do you replicate that in the remote setting? My Digital Office, a leading digital office solution for remote and hybrid teams, enables enterprises to break down communication and collaboration obstacles.
The metaverse for work, My Digital Office, centres upon the idea of deep human connection, productivity, and healthy work habits. A truly virtual office offers an online workplace with customisable rooms, desks, and chairs.
The solution offers status updates, so you never have to wonder where your boss or a colleague is. In contrast, rapid collaboration tools like video calls or whiteboard sessions allow you to develop ideas, solve issues, or simply catch up.
Remote work in the metaverse is said to revolutionise the way we communicate and connect with people remotely, solving most trust issues that we encounter right now.
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- Organise Virtual Feedback Sessions
Admittedly, leaders find it hard to give remote teams feedback because the fear of negative bias is more pronounced in virtual and hybrid working environments. Nonetheless, giving honest and thoughtful feedback is critical, as it helps foster healthy communication between you and your remote team.
Simply scheduling a 15-min virtual chat and asking ‘How are you?’ will help build and maintain personal rapport. Likewise, it will allow you to make up for the lack of face-to-face communication while demonstrating that your employees can trust you.
Equally, if you’re a remote or hybrid employee, you shouldn’t feel afraid to ask questions or receive feedback on how you could improve your working practices. Being open and vulnerable shows your manager that you care about your performance and broader role within the organisation.
As you open up regularly, you will build better relationships, leading to trust and enhanced performance.
Fostering a culture of trust, honesty, inclusion, and openness takes time, often following a zigzagged pattern. However, with the right tools and open communication, you can take your organisation and people to new heights where trust will be the enabler of a productive and collaborative working environment.