by Sara Carter
As remote and distributed teams become more commonplace within various industries, they do come with their own set of unique challenges. One of which is companies building trust with employees. Trust is something that is necessary between a manager and employees because it fuels the ability for tasks to be completed on time. With 33% of U.S. employees working remotely, many organizations are trying to find new ways to build trust within their teams no matter their location.
This blog focuses on a few ways that companies can create and build rapport with employees working from home.
#1: Discuss Expectations: One of the first ways to build trust with an employee is to clarify what job expectations are. While some companies are more flexible than others when it comes to work-life balance, ensure team members know what is expected of them when it comes to working hours. As long as individuals understand the boundaries of the work day, they will respect when they can be logged on and working and when they can step away to handle personal issues.
Flexible hours are useful for companies to offer, and one survey found that 80% of its respondents were more loyal to their company when offered flexible working hours. However, in order to avoid abusing this benefit, leadership needs to be clear on its expectations for hours to be working.
Another part of expectations is project deadlines. Remote workers can get extremely frustrated when due dates are not accurately in place or changed at the last minute. Like employees in the office, they structure their daily schedule around what needs to be done and similar to a normal office, managers want their employees to finish tasks on time. Discussing deadlines during each leg of a project or sending out reminders of when something is due, are ways team leaders can ensure this information is being communicated correctly. Meeting deadlines is one way of building trust because it shows that a remote team member is working and completing tasks.
#2: Communicate Often: Yes, there are lots of meetings during the work day, but supervisors should set aside time, weekly or bi-weekly to meet with remote employees. Instead of gathering around the water cooler, these meetings are a time to catch up or discuss feedback on anything pertinent. Even if it’s a daily message asking if everything is ok, managers need to connect with people working from home.
Also, it’s easy to assume all is well if supervisors aren’t talking to remote workers all the time. However, this false sense of security can cover up underlying issues that may lead to employees leaving the company or consistently missing deadlines. Whether it’s a video chat or instant messaging, communication with remote workers is a factor in building trust.
#3: Provide Tools for Success: Unlike a traditional office setting, where there is a closet or location filled with supplies and tools, remote team members do not have the ability to get up and grab something they need right away. This is where companies have to re-think and create a system to support remote workers’ needs. It can be hard for individuals to do their job if they don’t have everything they need to accomplish it. But by providing what they need, organizations can build trust because employees will know their company will do what is necessary to help them succeed.
Sending out supplies for projects doesn’t have to be the sole reason to send a package to remote individuals. Mailing a handwritten note that says thanks for doing a good job or a surprise package filled with goodies, can boost morale for individuals at home and showcase interest in their wellbeing. All of those feelings can also contribute to establishing trust.
#4: Cultivate Relationships: As a substitute to normal office banter, managers need to create a digital version for their remote employees to connect with one another. From posting photos of pets to polling opinions about pop culture news, this space is a place for non-work related conversations. All work and no play can contribute to mistrust and burnout in the workplace. Besides, it’s another way for managers to learn more about their individual team members, and identify their out of office hobbies and interests.
Another way to build a relationship within remote teams is hosting fun video conference sessions. Many companies have hosted karaokes, cook-offs, talent shows, and more via video meetings to not only boost morale and teamwork, but reinforce trust with their employees. Creating quality relationships with a team, no matter their location, will help managers and organizations in the long term.
At the end of the day, trust is a big necessity in the workplace. Even if employees are working remotely, they need to feel and be trusted in order to do their job. By using any of the ideas above, organizations can create an environment of trust even if people are not in a central location.