Businesses all around the globe are now working offsite to keep their operations afloat. For most, this is uncharted territory and may not be as temporary as we initially thought - as more and more organisations realise this is the beginning of our new world of work. In the transition to working from home, managers are newly faced with accountability in a different way – how do they know if their employees are working?
Uncertainty around how to trust employees to get the work done, commonly lead managers to micromanage their employees - causing employees to overwork to prove themselves. The solution is, simply, trust.
By fostering a culture of trust, your remote team will thrive. Here are some tips on how to build trust and reliability in a remote team:
Be Completely Transparent - Always
When an entire team is working physically alone, accidentally withholding information or not providing enough context for other team members is common. Make a conscious effort to provide all relevant information – even it seems obvious. Be transparent about:
This also goes for contractors, freelancers and flexi-workers. Many managers make the mistake of telling freelancers to expect a workload increase over the coming months, when they aren’t sure if this will be the case at all. This might be well intentioned but it may string along freelancers and leave them feeling deceived when it doesn’t pan out.
Don’t risk negative reviews or unnecessarily stressed team members. To build trust, there can’t be any surprises.
Use Communication Tools
Communicate with your remote team openly and often by using a chat tool. Be aware not to treat team chat tools like MS Teams or Slack, like email – sending many private or direct messages. Rather keep almost all discussions public – ensuring that no member feels left out of important conversations.
If there is a miscommunication, escalate it privately. Once the issue is settled, return to a public channel and relay the outcome. This creates a culture of trust.
The better you get to know your team, the more they feel they can trust you. Make team socialising and bonding a priority. Fun and light conversations on a chat tool loosen the tension for more serious conversations. Create channels devoted simply for socialising - spending time in these channels is not seen as slacking off, but as important bonding with colleagues.
Another way to encourage team members to know each other, is for managers to set up mixed chats with people throughout the company every week or to turn whole-company meetings into smaller group breakouts on a video conference tool. Inspire employees to chat about their personal lives and have real organic conversations.
This is not a waste of meeting or work time; it’s a way to ensure employees feel connected, which is crucial in building a trustworthy remote culture.
Set Clear Expectations
Perhaps the fastest way to build team trust is to create and share goals. This is beneficial for teams new to remote work or when you’re onboarding a new employee - consistent check-ins and establishing goals ensure all employees know what is expected of them.