Virtual and remote teams are now a common occurrence in any global organization. While remote working allows companies to harness the best talent regardless of geographical location it also comes with its challenges. With trust being one of the key elements of any effective team, how can we build trust in remote teams and create an inclusive work environment?
Working remotely can get lonely. Everyone needs the opportunity to make personal connections with the people they work with. Develop a sense of camaraderie early on by immediately introducing new team members and providing opportunities for everyone to get to know each other.
Employees are more likely to trust each other when they feel a sense of connection. Develop a robust on-boarding process for new hires, encourage team members to share tidbits about their lives, and create opportunities for frequent socializing.
Social media, video calls, chat tools like Slack, or virtual “coffee dates” are great ways to get to know one another. During meetings, consider setting aside 10 minutes at the beginning where people can share weekend plans or highs and lows from the past week.
Managers must lead by example and being transparent should be top of your priority list. Keep everyone in the loop by providing easy access to team information. Project progress, work schedules, and task statuses should be publicly available to all members of the team.
Some forward-thinking teams are also transparent about salary. Total transparency can be one of the best ways to build trust in virtual teams and make sure everyone has clarity on company policies and goals.
Don’t expect employees to earn your trust over time. Instead, give them trust right away. You can communicate this trust through eliciting feedback on big projects, encouraging them to take initiative, or providing opportunities for professional development, to name a few examples.
This “positive psychology” approach will help your employees flourish in their role and rise to meet its challenges. By creating positive experiences for your employees right off the bat, you’ll build a team that’s motivated, trusting, and happy.
In summary, leaders on virtual teams need to go over and above the normal measures to build trust. Intentional relationship building. Proactive, broad and honest communications. Staying visible and keeping little commitments. These deliberate acts will help you build trust from a distance and unlock higher performance in your organization.