7 Effective Ways to Build Trust in Remote Teams
Can Managers Build Trust with Remote Teams?
Leading and managing a remote team comes with its own unique sets of challenges, and building a high-trust relationship is undoubtedly at the top of the list.
Earning employees’ trust is crucial for a smooth-sailing working experience and a company’s long-term success. Nevertheless, it’s not easy to acknowledge the fact that your remote team might lack trust in each other.
Therefore, it is imperative for leaders to find new innovative ways to engage, connect, and develop that critical employee-employer foundation in remote workplaces. Especially, when in-person interactions are not possible, it’s crucial to know how to build trust in remote teams.
Fortunately, you can take concrete actions and establish a high-trust culture in your remote team.
In this guide, we will focus on the top seven proven trust-building strategies to improve collaboration and foster a healthy and result-oriented remote team.
But, first, let’s look at what is a high-trust culture and why building it in your virtual team is so important.
What is a High-Trust Culture in Remote Work?
A fully-working high-trust culture is a foundation for a strong remote team. Since fairness and trust are based on mutual understanding and respect, a trust-focused workplace nurtures creativity and collaboration.
After all, who doesn’t like to be respected as a professional? We know we do!
Leaders can instill trust in their organization through their actions, words, and budgets. Signs of such traits in a company are:
- Leaders lead by example.
- Transparency, fairness, kindness, and generosity are values emphasized in your company.
- Employees are treated respectfully.
- Employees are trusted to make their own decisions.
- The company regularly conducts feedback sessions.
The company culture encourages a strong sense of collaboration, accountability, and camaraderie.
7 Effective Ways to Build Trust in a Remote Work Team
Old habits die hard, so preventing them is easier than breaking them. The best leaders avoid things from getting that far and make confidence-building measures a priority.
So, what are the ingredients for building trust in a remote team?
Here are the seven most effective ways to cultivate and flourish trust in a remote workplace:
1. Set Clear Goals
Managing a remote team means setting and taking care of the following items regularly:
- Team goals
- Team purposes
When everyone on a team has a common objective and is motivated to produce good work, trust will come naturally.
Having clear priorities, goals, and purposes will promote transparency within your team.
In fact, you should create a document that contains all those details and then share it with the rest of your team. Then, the document can be reviewed weekly during meetings with your team, which is a great way to keep your virtual workforce up-to-date about the progress of their work.
2. Create a Sense of Unity
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, co-founder and managing partner of Paravis Partners, Amy Jen Su, wrote,
“Remind people that they are part of a larger collective by creating shared team goals and connecting them to the bigger picture.”
This is especially vital in a remote working model. Now more than ever, remote workers need to feel a sense of unity. Unity is the key ingredient of binding a team together to work harmoniously towards every company milestone.
Creating a sense of unity among the team members begins with understanding their strengths and weaknesses.
Through building unity, you can achieve “swift trust” amongst your remote team, where employees can be reliant on each other even if they are strangers.
3. Organize Regular Planned Meetings
Collaboration is at the heart of the digital workplace, and enabling it through the use of technology has been possible, but not without issues. For example, keeping a sense of belonging and connection requires face-to-face interaction from time to time.
However, the tricky part is similar to in-person meetings. Meeting more often means less time to work on vital tasks. Therefore, online meetings should be planned carefully and used to their full potential to avoid becoming a burden.
So, if you want remote work to be more efficient, consider conducting only the following three meetings:
- The Initial Meeting: The first meeting will be used to introduce the communication and collaboration processes your teams will be using.
- The Regular Meeting: The meeting will be scheduled regularly with an agenda published, whatever “regular” means to your company. It can be a weekly meeting for customer-facing teams, while it can be a biweekly meeting for back-office groups.
- The One-on-One Meeting: Create the option for employees to meet with management in one-on-one meetings. It gives leaders a chance to get in touch with their staff.
Occasionally, you can also schedule less formal meetings. It can be a casual gathering for your team or a version of your Happy Hour event online. It’s an excellent way to get to know one another. Thus, you and your teammates will feel more comfortable trusting each other.
4. Set a Remote Workplace Leader
It is not uncommon for some employees to feel lonely working remotely. But there’s one easy way to make remote employees feel like members of a team – designating a remote workforce leader.
The role of a remote workforce leader is to:
- Establish and maintain a remote workforce culture.
- Ensure that employees are collaborating effectively.
- Organize virtual team-building events for your workers, such as a book club, movie-related quiz, or sport-related video calls.
Becoming a great remote workforce leader takes time, but focusing on the key leadership attributes and finding one small way each week to integrate those in your remote workplace will help you become the leader your virtual team needs.
Therefore, hiring someone with prior experience in handling and leading a remote workplace is always the way to go.
Typically the role of remote workplace leaders is taken upon by someone in HR. However, a remote executive assistant, or remote EA, with leadership skills is also a great fit for the role of Remote Workplace Leader.
At Viva, our highly-trained and experienced Executive Assistants can help your remote team unleash its full potential and take your business to the next level.
Want a Remote Workplace Leader? We’ve got just the leader for you!
5. Prioritize Transparent Communication
We can’t emphasize enough that communication effectiveness is one of the most crucial aspects of team collaboration.
Humans need certainty, and communication is all about reducing doubts and ambiguities. In a professional setup, this includes exchanging goals, objectives, and projects.
A joint coffee break via video conference, for instance, allows employees to get to know each other in a relaxed, approachable way.
In our private lives, we understand this principle: the more we get to know each other, the more trust we have. The same holds for remote teams. In addition, clear communication also helps employees feel less lonely while working from home.
6. Appreciation and Praise
Employees find it hard to trust you when they feel that you don’t value them. The concern is if they make even a small mistake, you’ll replace them as easily as you were there to help.
By acknowledging your team’s achievement, success, and work, you prove that you care about them.
For your praises as a leader to be effective, it must be:
- Prompt – Don’t wait until it’s too late. Sure, you should praise big accomplishments at your quarterly all-hands meeting, but be sure also to acknowledge good work as it occurs.
- Specific – “Good job” is nice to hear but mostly ineffective. How about “Excellent job on finishing that extra task. I admire your ability to keep up with your other priorities while taking on extra work.” This is a much more effective example of a specific appreciation. When you are clear about someone’s actions and why they matter, you are more credible and make a bigger impact.
- Appropriate – Recognition should be based on the type and amount of achievement. You may come across as insincere if you’re overly enthusiastic about something minor while not making a big deal about something major. Be sure to acknowledge achievements appropriately without going overboard.
Do not underestimate the power of the currency of gratitude. Establish a culture of gratitude and recognition. Make sure your team points out big wins so that the appreciation comes from everyone, not just you.
7. Constant Feedback
A healthy and trustworthy employee-employer relationship always needs tending.
Despite having great team chemistry when you worked together in the office, there’s a chance some of that has worn away when you work from home.
Make sure you let your team members know whether their work has been successful when you evaluate their performance. When you provide honest feedback to your colleagues, you help them realize what aspects of their work need improvement. This will motivate everyone on your team to achieve excellence.
Do some reflection. Talk to your teammates. Create additional structures to encourage feedback. Regular feedback means less stress and more engaged employees – especially during review time.
Remote Work: Final Thoughts
Developing a high-trust culture is essential for a virtual crew to produce excellent results constantly, hit milestones before the deadline, and succeed as a team.
If you’re a remote leader, consider trying the seven most effective tips we suggested above. We’re sure they’ll help you build a trusted and loyal remote work environment and strong company culture.