How to build trust with remote workers

Building trust within your team in the workplace is essential. A team can’t effectively work together without that important foundation of trust in and belief in each other. Many companies arrange team-building sessions and group activities to help cultivate and foster that sense of rapport and trust, not only within the team but with supervisors and management, too.

So what happens when your team is made up of remote workers who don’t come into an office or centralized location? How do you build trust with your staff when the most contact you have with them is a Skype call, or an email each day.

We all know how vital trust is in any workplace, and there are some working environments where building a sense of trust is even more important. And according to a recent post by the Harvard Business Review that suggests that working remotely is eroding trust – it’s never been more important to get trust-building in a business right. Home care workers, for example, take people’s lives in their hands each day, administering medication and other important care – it’s essential that you have trust in these employees, or you won’t be able to effectively manage them and ensure clients are getting the service they have paid for. If you’re trying to enhance your trust-building with remote workers, we’ve come up with some top tips to help.

Give trust freely

In a situation where remote workers will be carrying out their daily tasks unsupervised, you must immediately trust that they are able to complete the jobs they have been assigned. In many cases, we often hear that trust should be earned rather than given, but this is an exception to the rule – if you’ve made the decision to hire these people, you must put your faith in them from day one and trust not only them, but your own judgement. If something happens for them to break the trust, they may need to earn it again further down the line, but the important thing for all remote workers is that they start off with your full faith and backing.

Communication is key

It’s hard to overstate just how important communication is when building trust. It’s vital that your company has lines of open communication at all times, so that remote workers feel they can come to you with issues and problems, thus building that sense of mutual trust and respect. There are lots of different ways you can communicate with remote workers – experiment and find what works best for you and your team. Some like to conference call daily or weekly, others like to call a regular meeting in the office to see their team face-to-face. In some companies, a simple group email is enough to touch base and make sure everyone’s on track, while others like to keep an informal instant messaging group open, so that staff members have someone to chat to throughout the day. Make sure you have the technology available to facilitate these conversations and keep those lines of communication open at all costs.

Be accountable

Trust is a two-way street – it’s not enough for you to trust your employees; they also need to trust in your capabilities as a manager. To build this trust, you need to be held accountable in all of your actions. Be honest at all times, and always follow through on promises or plans you make that involve your team. If your team constantly see you falling short as a manager, they’re not likely to have trust in you – and the two-way relationship is damaged.

Keep staff involved

Remote workers can often feel isolated, working on their own for most of their day. The last thing you need is to isolate them even more by making decisions on your own and forcing them upon your team. Of course, as a manager, there will be certain decisions that need to be made by you alone – but you should look to involve your team wherever you can, seeking their input and making them feel valued. If they feel their ideas and opinions are being taken into account, they’ll have more trust in you, and they’ll feel more engaged and involved with the company, which could lead to them becoming more trustworthy employees – it’s a win-win.

Be proactive

Simply saying that your door is always open isn’t necessarily enough when building trust with remote workers. You need to be proactive about engaging with them regularly, rather than waiting for them to come to you. Schedule some time each week or month to check in personally with each team member. Encourage socializing between other remote workers – they’ll benefit from talking to other people who understand the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.

All of these actions contribute toward an environment of trust, which can lead to better overall outcomes in the workplace.

Want to know more about the benefits of remote workforce management software? Head over to our workforce management hub.

Unique IQ’s award-winning software helps businesses manage their remote teams and keep lone workers safe. Find out more.