Building Trust In The Virtual Workplace Vs. In Person

More employers are now treating telecommuting and virtual work experience as a skill. Here’s how to keep the trust.

First published on the Hi5 Blog

Trust lies at the foundation of all team-building efforts. It’s crucial for your team to share mutual trust to ensure their success and yours. As most leaders know, it’s challenging enough to develop and foster team-focused trust on-site and in person.

Add in the obstacles of working virtually — which 88% of companies did worldwide at the height of the pandemic — and those challenges take on new dimensions.

The Workplace Is Becoming Increasingly Virtual

Although many lockdowns and restrictions have been lifted, the shift toward remote and hybrid work models has gathered massive plumes of steam.

Millions of employees have realised that they can and want to do at least a portion of their work at home.

In response, employers know they need to accommodate this drive for employee autonomy and convenience, since 74% of U.S. companies have or plan to implement a permanent hybrid work model.

If your business is among that 74%, that is a great start to building trust — but there is more work to be done to ensure that trust becomes an embedded feature in your virtual business model. You need to make sure everyone — manager-to-employee and employee-to-employee — can trust you and each other.

When you nurture a cohesive, team-oriented workplace, you can gain the competitive advantage of having team members who get along, trust each other, and work happily toward a unified goal that drives your company’s success. When your employees feel your trust and trust you in return, the possibilities are boundless for everyone.

It is certainly easier to build this trust in person, but do you know how to do it in the virtual environment?

Four Ways You Can Build Trust in the Virtual Workplace vs. In Person

Developing an enjoyable and united workforce requires communication, inclusiveness, and respect. This philosophy is true virtually, in person, and far beyond the workplace.

Before digging into the accompanying resource, let’s explore four critical ways that companies can build trust in the virtual space vs. in person.

1. Hire people who want to work in a trust-based environment

As you guide your existing employees to embrace trust in the virtual environment, you can minimise your efforts in the future by hiring employees who crave a virtual and trust-based environment.

Ensure that your candidates are willing and eager to maintain a trust-based work environment. You can create a better virtual or hybrid management strategy when you have a team of people invested in your trust philosophy. Streamline your efforts by hiring the right people.

More employers are now treating telecommuting and virtual work experience as a skill.

Employees need to know how to manage a good deal of their technology on their own, such as using video and chat communication apps. They also need to be adept at time management, self-discipline, collaboration, and conflict resolution to ensure that management and fellow team members can count on them.

2. Encourage regular communication to foster camaraderie, collaboration, and productivity

In 2020, Zoom generated $2.6 billion in revenue — a 317% increase from 2019. Zoom went from being one of many handy business communications apps to being an essential communication tool and household name outside of business environments. It connects business colleagues, friends, and family in a meaningful and “present” way.

Regular communication in the virtual space is especially important because remote work can be lonely and could cause stagnation of ideas and motivation.

Everyone can benefit from checking in with team members to talk about projects or how their day is going. They might need to vent that a neighbour started mowing the lawn in the middle of an important call or that they can’t find a way to start a project.

Making personal connections is vital in order to build trust and develop a sense of camaraderie, regardless of where they are physically.

3. Focus on transparency and intention when communicating virtually

Without body language cues and a sense of the environment, many remote employees might find it challenging to feel a strong sense of transparency. One way that employers can accomplish this goal is by setting meeting schedules, project checkpoints, and one-on-one calls.

Show up and come prepared with specific notes and thoughts to address the matter at hand, based on where the employee stands.

Such transparency and intention-focused practices can instil trust in the employee, reassuring them that the project or concerns are important and worth addressing with care and preparation. Additionally, ensure that this practice applies to all members of the team.

4. Decentralise the power dynamic to allow for rotating team leadership

While the single leader model works in a traditional, in-person work environment, it tends to be less effective in the virtual age.

For instance, in a virtual environment, you might see some team members show more confidence when launching a project. Meanwhile, someone else might do a better job of tying it all together.

Why not let everyone’s unique strengths shine?

Sharing the various leadership roles lets everyone know that you are paying attention to their abilities, practicing inclusiveness, and placing trust in them to get the job done. Ultimately, this could lead to increased confidence and inspiration for everyone.

Trust the Process; Trust Your Team

Since the virtual workplace is here to stay and keeps growing daily, it’s crucial to learn strategies to make it easier and more productive for everyone. Focusing on trust and using some of these tips can help your team and business thrive in virtual and in-person environments.

For more information on building trust, check out the accompanying resource:

Graphic created by WorkPatterns

About the author

Adam Berke is the co-founder and CEO of WorkPatterns, a company focused on cultivating the habits of great leaders and effective operators to help organisations around the world achieve their mission. Prior to that, he was part of the founding team of NextRoll (formerly AdRoll) and helped grow the company from three to 700 employees around the world. Along the way, he faced the personal challenges of evolving from being an individual contributor on the founding team, to becoming a manager, and eventually an executive who hired and managed other managers as the company grew.

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Learnings and thoughts on getting better, together. By the makers (and friends) of Hi5.

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