Most companies fall into two categories of trust: high trust and low trust. Low trust companies are defined by individuals who live in self-protection mode. In these companies, the most powerful people win rather than the best ideas. There is less incentive to collaborate or take risks since the company punishes failure. In comparison, high trust companies are distinctive in that their employees feel safe and are ready to collaborate and experiment. Team members feel secure enough to invest in a shared vision.
People at high-trust companies report 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives and 40% less burnout than those at low-trust companies. But how can companies create trust while everyone is working remotely?
Here are five tips for managers to build trust in their remote teams:
1. Take time to connect
Isolation can cause team members to feel disconnected from their company. Feeling disconnected causes a lack of trust. Prioritize virtual, face-to-face interaction within remote teams. Setting aside time for team meetings at least twice a week creates an environment of participation and allows team members to share their ideas easily. Use these meetings to focus on goals and output while building a shared vision within your team.
2. Reiterate accountability
According to Forbes, feedback and accountability creates a positive team effect. People learn what is expected and build relationships by sharing openly. When colleagues keep one another accountable, the team can evaluate which team members are the best fit for certain group responsibilities. Whether through verbal feedback on a Zoom call or through team project management systems like Monday.com, accountability is crucial for projects to efficiently move forward.
3. Unite your team
Unite virtual teams by consistently focusing on goals and creating professional team-building opportunities. Frequently aligning your team with your organization’s goals keeps the company’s shared vision top of mind. Entreprenuer.com suggests opening and closing meetings by drawing connections to overarching organizational goals. When individuals are reminded of how their actions contribute to company goals outside of their remote realm, they will feel as though they are a part of something bigger than themselves. These feelings build loyalty and trust towards an organization.
Virtual teams can also come together through remote team-building opportunities. UTC Center for Professional Education offers customized, corporate workforce training that can be delivered completely online. These courses can help staff members understand each other more effectively while creating cohesiveness throughout the team.
4. Set an example
As a leader, your team will constantly evaluate how you handle situations. A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article says that while everyone needs to communicate regularly and stay updated on projects while working remotely, micromanaging breeds mistrust. Instead, build trust in remote work environments by giving employees autonomy, holding them accountable for their deliverables and focusing on their performance.
5. Tap into your humanity
Since water cooler conversations are no longer an option, managers should prioritize checking in on their teams. Take measures to be extra aware of team members’ well-being. While on Zoom calls, watch your employees’ body language, ask employees how they are doing and genuinely listen.
“There can actually be more opportunities to practice empathy and exhibit authenticity in a remote environment as colleagues get a glimpse into your home. Managers need to have a real finger on the pulse of the wellbeing of their team and help them show up, be their best and make the right choices so you can have trust with them,” says Harriet Molyneaux, managing director at research consultancy HSRM advisory.
Creating trust in a remote workplace takes intentional, thoughtful effort. As a leader, it is your job to create a culture of trust and implement these strategies in your business. Putting in the effort now will create a more enjoyable space for your employees in the future.
Take time to connect.
Unite your team.
Set an example.
Tap into your humanity
Marah Whitaker serves as the marketing assistant for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Professional Education (UTC CPE). The center manages all of UTC’s non-credit certifications, credentialing and workforce training. Custom corporate training, professional development courses and medical career academies are all offered through the center. CPE believes in offering excellent lifelong learning programs to meet the diverse educational needs of those they serve.