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How to Develop Trust Amongst Your Team When Working Remotely

If you want to learn how to navigate and manage your team in our new remote working environment whilst building trust, read on as we share practical strategies you can introduce to your team now.
Published 20 Aug 2022
Updated 22 Sep 2022
7 min read

It’s no secret that our world has changed over the past few years. As a result of the pandemic, we’ve been forced to change the way we live and work. Companies have had to adapt and evolve entirely and lean in to trust the process of remote work.

Businesses all around the globe are now working with remote teams to keep their operations afloat.

This is uncharted territory for most of us as we begin to adapt to our new world of work. Gone are the days of in-person meetings, catching up for a coffee in the kitchen, or grabbing a bite to eat with your co-workers at lunch.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, this has also revealed the immense potential in the future of the digital age. It has shown that with the right mentality, companies are capable of leaning into new and exciting formats of business.

However, despite significant research pointing in favour of remote work, managers are still having difficulty trusting their employees to work productively from the comfort of their own homes.

Gallup definition of high trust and its benefits

What are the common concerns of having remote employees?

We’ve been listening to your feedback and noticed some recurring themes come to light around trusting your employees when working remotely.

Examples of some of the questions we’ve received

  • How can I trust my employees to be productive when they’re working from home?
  • How can my employees prove they are getting the work done?

Let’s examine these. As the world continues to transition to remote work, we thought we’d share how to foster a high trust culture within a remote workplace.

If you want to learn how to navigate and manage your team in a remote work environment whilst building trust, read on as we share practical strategies you can introduce to your remote team now.

The key to building trust in remote work environments

Trust is foundational for creating an effective team, so it’s no surprise that it makes up the largest part of the employee productivity pyramid.

The employee productivity pyramid

It’s one thing to say you trust your employees, but when it comes to showing trust, you need to walk the talk. When we talk about fostering trust, it goes both ways, and this involves:

  • Compliance – Employment contracts; certifications, payroll, tax, work rights
  • Compensation – Fair and Legal (Modern Award & Classification)
  • Clear policies – National Employment Standards, Fair Work Information, Statement, Drugs & Alcohol, Social Media, etc
  • Workplace Health & Safety
  • Security
  • Transparency
  • Communication
Employment Hero Policies - Building Trust remotely
Set and acknowledge company policies with Employment Hero

If you’d like to learn more about how our policies can help build trust amongst your team, get in touch with one of our small business specialists today.

Remember: Building trust is a two-way street for both employees and employers.

Employees want to know, “Am I going to get paid correctly, work in reasonable conditions and be treated with respect?”

Employers want to know, “Can I trust my employees to be positively engaged and deliver what the business needs of them?”

How can you build trust in remote teams?

When it comes to building trust remotely, there are many pieces that make up the puzzle.

1. Communicate often

When working in remote work environments, communication and trust have never been more important. Communication goes further than just spoken words. After all, tone (38%) and body language (55%) make up the major elements when it comes to building a human connection.

This is why it’s so important to encourage everyone in your team to have their cameras on during team meetings

Elements of personal communication - pie diagram - body language 55%, spoken word 7% and voice & tone 38%

As a leader in remote work, we know that you can never over-communicate. By keeping your team members updated and in the know, they’ll feel confident in your direction.

This is especially important in uncertain times when your team members are looking to you for guidance and stability.

However, did you know that 91% of employees think that their team leaders lack communication skills? What’s more, almost 1 in 3 employees don’t trust their employers, and that stat was from when we were in a physical office together pre-pandemic.

Be sure to have the right software for remote working available for your team to facilitate open communication.

Read more: Checklist for companies with remote employees

2. Be open and transparent

Uncertainty is a nasty trap to be caught in. Especially if managers fear their remote employees are sitting by the TV in their pyjamas munching on Doritos rather than knuckling down. This can lead to tight micro-management regimes that leave both parties feeling dissatisfied.

The solution to uncertainty is simple, and it starts with building open communication and transparency.

If you want your employees to be honest, you can’t keep them in the dark. With remote teams working in separate locations, it’s easy to forget to relay important information regarding specific roles, expectations and task deadlines.

Providing enough context and ensuring remote teams have access to all necessary information is a must. Being open and transparent starts with strong communication.

Transitioning to a remote workforce and having remote employees means you need to provide them with a platform to share, discuss and collaborate on ideas. Try using online communication platforms like Slack and keep discussions in public channels, so everyone can feel included and incorporated in meaningful conversations.

Trust is a two-way street; if employees feel trusted and valued, they will return the same level of respect when it comes to completing their work on time.

Read more: Incorporating trust into your company culture remotely

3. Set clear expectations

If your employees are seasoned veterans when it comes to remote work, you’ve likely already built high levels of trust in one another to complete tasks autonomously. However, for teams only just transitioning to remote work, setting clear goals and expectations is critical for building trusting relationships.

Often when offsite work arrangements fail, it is because managers did not spend time briefing their employees on what is expected of them. Be sure to clearly articulate what it is you want each team member to achieve throughout the course of the day.

If a project needs to be finished before a deadline, set reminders for those responsible for preventing anyone from steering off track.

A great way to articulate expectations and critical tasks to remote employees is through regular video calls. Whether it be in the morning, afternoon or perhaps both times of the day, virtual meetings always come in handy when your employees work remotely.

If your team meets via video call, have someone record key points and deliverables that will be forwarded to each attendee.

That way everyone knows what it is they’re doing, and you won’t need to check in on them every 5 minutes.

Read more: Goal setting for remote teams

4. Focus on output over hours

In this new era of remote working, the focus has been more on output rather than the number of hours and location of work. The goal is to look at what employees have to show in these flexible circumstances.

Many managers are concerned with employee performance when working with a remote workforce. When employees work remotely, most managers find it difficult to maintain trust because they’re unable to track how long each person remains in their seat, as they would when working 9-5 in the office.

Not being able to monitor remote workers means team leaders and managers have to put full trust in their employees to accomplish exactly what was agreed to.

Strict employee monitoring has been proven to impact productivity levels and lower workplace morale negatively.

Looking for more ways to be productive? Here’s how to run an effective virtual brainstorming session.

Read more: How to promote work-life balance for remote teams

5. Hold every team member accountable

In truth, your employees may well be snacking away at their seats or scrolling through various social media channels. Still, the real value of remote work is the ability to empower employees to manage their time and productivity better.

Remote work means people are held accountable, and if they fail to deliver, they must communicate why. Employees need to be in charge of their own time management and learn how to apply themselves in their roles.

Encourage team members to share the progress of their current project in regular meetings. This allows both you and other team members to be on the same page while keeping individual team members accountable.

Read more: Is flexible working right for your company?

How can you incorporate effective communication when working remotely?

At Employment Hero, we know how important communication is. Everyone is experiencing different things during these trying times, so it’s important to be transparent and honest.

If you’re not sure where to start, try breaking it up over periods of time. If you’re looking for some inspiration, ours looks a little like this:

  • Decade – Purpose, Vision, Values & BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
  • Annually – Goals & Objectives
  • Quarterly – Themes, Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
  • Monthly – Reviews, Surveys, Reports
  • Weekly – 1:1 Coaching / All-Hands
  • Daily – Team Huddles / Targets / Socials
  • Hourly – Announcements / Recognition
  • Minutes – Constant chat / video

Alternatively, you can adopt a schedule similar to our 4×3 of communication cadence.

A guide to communication cadence

Looking for other ways to improve workplace trust?

If you’re looking for a practical way to start building trust amongst your team in a remote working environment, here is the summary of what we’ve discussed, plus a few additional tips:

  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to help work towards a common company goal
  • Reward and recognise your team for great work
  • Celebrate work anniversaries and birthdays
  • Employee happiness surveys to see how your team is feeling
  • Using 1:1 templates and pencilling in time each week for a catch-up
  • Virtual daily chit-chat channel your team can drop into if they’re feeling lonely or needing some social connection
  • Slack social sharing channel to communicate with others about non-work-related topics. This helps to keep things fun

Are you considering hiring a remote team? Our global employer of record service will help you find the perfect match for your company’s needs, no matter where they live in the world!

Book a demo with us today to see how we can help you expand your business globally.

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