No matter the industry, every company has seen a shift in workforce engagement since the beginning of 2020. While we were forced to make drastic changes to office work cultures, we have slowly begun picking up the pieces in recent months.
Not only has remote working become a crutch we lean on during the winter months, but it is also now a leading benefit of many company cultures. The entire world workforce got to experience mornings and evenings without a long commute to the office, and in turn, many organizations have actually seen a rise in productivity.
To sustain that productivity, collective trust needed to be built within the remote working environment. Now with a few years of experience navigating the remote workforce, many common strategies and tools have come to the surface. Companies are implementing these tactics to ensure that their organization is performing at top-notch levels, no matter the office setting.
While there may be a few bad apples in the workforce, collectively, most employees at your organization are there because they actually want to work there. So how do we retain top talent and keep employees encouraged to work in a setting that can be ever-distracting?
It all starts with trust, and lots of it. According to a Harvard Business Review on the Neuroscience of Trust, individuals at high-trust companies experience 76% more engagement and 50% more productivity than individuals at low-trust companies.
To build trust in remote teams, there are a few key methods to implement into your organization.
Culture begins at the leadership level. When the managers and leaders of an organization display trust to their team members, they send a positive message about work ethics, but more importantly, they show a level of humanity that is necessary for businesses to succeed.
To initiate trust within a remote culture, leadership must show their support for the overall wellness of their employees. By creating programs for corporate wellbeing, team members will feel the support, and in turn, provide more productive output.
Benefits of a corporate wellness program (©Cristaux International)
Corporate wellness programs can take any shape depending on the mission and values of a business, and therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all for this type of program, but it can take on many shapes: on-site yoga and meditation classes, mental health months, and internal recognition programs are all great examples of how to support not just the physical but also the mental state of every employee.
On the topic of leadership support, individuals that lead by example can almost always guarantee to build trust in remote teams. When someone leads by example, they set the bar when it comes to work ethic. This will allow expectations and goals to be relayed upfront, providing clear communication of what is needed from a remote employee.
A great way to set the bar high with a remote workforce is to identify a growth path for employees and encourage that development. Allow your team to take the initiative and find what sparks joy in their job, and then find the path to success. When leaders show interest in employee growth, trust grows.
Implement the Proper Tools
Whether we would like to admit it or not, 2020 started with a mess of video conferencing. Not one company uses the same software, the software themselves may not have been prepared with the proper number of servers, and the abundance of internet issues and outages were baffling. Needless to say, trust may have been hard to come by, with many employees missing for long periods of time.
Now, most of the workforce is well versed in how to use video conferencing software, and there have been plenty of advances in technology to accommodate the digital needs of many organizations. The new focus is perfecting those tools to create a constant, positive change in the remote workforce.
Organizations can ensure a collective trust is built by supporting the team and providing the proper tools to run a business remote. Whether this is by providing hotspot software for times of need, ensuring the ideal online chat channels are implemented, or even setting up an at-home office furniture and technology stipend, build trust in remote teams by supplying exactly what is needed.
There is no better way to build trust within an organization than by building morale. A team’s culture, vision, and mission can all be definitive reasons why an employee may or may not work at a company. Therefore, these distinctive features of a business must be ever evolving and match the needs and wants of the team.
Working in remote teams is a vital component to organizational success. (©unsplash.com)
When a remote culture is formed, it may be hard to identify those key characteristics that make your business what it is in terms of morale. One thing is for sure, employees need interaction in order to sustain said culture. By encouraging group participation and engagement, employees can feel a part of a company in the same way an office brings people together.
Initiate trust by starting simply. Create monthly happy hour or group calls that do not center around work. Implement weekly “conversation starters” in group chats that get the whole team involved or introduce team building games that can be done virtually like jeopardy and trivia. When teams interact with each other, they bond, building trust and boosting the company morale.
One of the time-tested ways to build trust is by open communication, no matter the relationship. With open communication in a remote workplace, individuals can feel a sense of trust on a whole different level.
Open communication can be implemented in many different ways. Within a remote workforce, an integral way to practice open communication would be to define what is expected from everyone while they are not in the office. Whether participating by saying “good morning” in a remote chat with the whole team or by encouraging individuals to work cross-departmentally, communication is not linear and should be allowed to flow free form.
Recognizing team members' success is a great way to build trust in remote teams. When team members are recognized for accomplishments big and small, they are not just praised for their success. Their achievements are reinforced with positive feedback and encouragement, in hopes that this success will lead to future successes for the business down the road.
Build trust by recognizing the game changers to the rest of your team. Initiate a newsletter that honors one another’s success stories and appreciates team members for their contributions. Celebrate the sales team with a President’s Club award or commemorate an employee’s 10 years on the job with additional PTO days so that they can take the vacation they deserve.
Not only do these forms of recognition create a level of trust with one another, but it also generates comradeship and above all else, retains employees by building a culture around appreciation.
In a world where remote teams are not going anywhere, trust has become a vital component to organizational success. It is important for companies to adapt to this changing landscape and adopt the proper strategies and tools to keep idle hands at bay. By building trust in remote teams, company morale is boosted, and productivity levels rise.
Samantha Hausen is a Marketing Operations Manager for Cristaux International – a Chicago-based manufacturing company specializing in recognition programs, custom awards, and trophies. Her thirst for knowledge fueled her career in the world of content. As part of a team dedicated to honoring individuals in the workplace, she encourages brand growth through the power of content.