What Does Trust Even Look Like In Remote Teams

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Trust is an umbrella word, often used to mean a lot of things. At times, it’s a filler word used to pad sentences. We don’t want to bother with that.

Instead, we want to whittle down the word to its most basic. To paraphrase Raymond Carver, find out what do we talk about when we talk about trust.

By making the word more tangible, hopefully, you’ll have a better idea of how you to foster trust in your distributed teams. A topic we’re always happy to chat about with you.

Considering trust in remote teams from a negative space

When you’re too close to a giant word like trust, it gets pixelated. It’s better to take a few steps back and look at it from a negative space.

In remote teams, that means how the major players act/think when they’re no longer in a place of trust.

Review sites like Glassdoor, Comparably, the Job Crowd bring up the same trust issues regarding remote work – repeatedly.   

  • Remote employees reveal that their greatest struggle is that managers don’t trust them enough to be transparent.
  • When managers share their biggest trust issue about remote work, most of them default to one concern: “are they working”.

So, there you have the bone of contention as far as trust in a remote team goes. (We did say we’re paring it down.)

The funny thing is, everyone agrees that remote work, actually “works”. Still, the above (I’d say minor) constraints can wreak havoc on the whole system.

So, in today’s article, we’re looking into the employees’ perspective and their top trust issues in a remote work setting. Later, we’ll pick up on the management’s POV and address those concerns.

How a lack of transparency can decay the distributed work model

From the remote workers’ viewpoint, lack of transparency is the biggest trust issue they face in distributed teams. So the way they see it, the question isn’t about their technical abilities or whether they’re the right person for the job.

What’s being questioned is who they are. Managers are indirectly saying to employees that they’re not someone who can be privy to company information. They’re outsiders, not part of the company – hired help, not valued employees.

These thoughts can spiral into the exact outcome that managers are most afraid of: remote employees not giving their best effort.

Not communicating and sharing the relevant information with your distributed teams can have several side-effects:

  • Us VS them mentality: You can never get your team to come together on shared goals if such a rift exists.
  • Dead-end job: The 2019 HackerRank Developer Skills Report says that the number one factor that developers look for in a role is the scope for personal growth. If employees don’t feel trusted by the company, they’re likely going to search for better positions.
  • Working instead of taking ownership: If their jobs pigeon-hole them, remote workers will never think of what’s good for the company, only focus on meeting deadlines.  
  • Dissatisfaction with work: A long cycle of feeling excluded will lead to dissatisfaction with work, poor performance, and bad company reputation.

Why sharing “secrets” with your distributed team is a good thing

Sharing relevant information with your remote workers is an act of inclusion. Knowing that you trust them will make your distributed team feel like a part of the company.

Okay, if you think that “feeling part of the company” is a “fluffy” idea – exactly what we said we aren’t doing, then get this. According to the 2018 Trust Outlook (pdf), when asked what US employees would do if they trusted their company’s leadership, here’s what they said:

  • 21% would work longer hours
  • 23% would offer better ideas
  • 25% would be better team players
  • 23% would be more loyal
  • 7% would take a pay cut

The same report says 28% of employees cited transparency as the number one reason for staying longer with a company.

The HackerRank Report states that coming up with creative solutions is something developers look for in a role. But they only follow through if they feel trusted.

And finally, a report (pdf) from Great Place to Work called the Business Case for a High-Trust Culture shows that when employees trust the company, they deliver greater than average results overall – even financially.

How to vault your company’s secret herbs and spices

Fear of proprietary information getting out can be crippling, especially to a small business. At the same time, sharing information is also key to getting the best out of your employees.

Other than nurturing trust within your company, there are a few checks and balances you can put into place that’ll safeguard your business as well as your employees.  

  • NDAs: Non-disclosure agreements are the most commonly used contracts to secure company information. They’re versatile, and you can use them to protect everything from proprietary ideas to company work processes.
  • Emails: Did you know emails are legally binding? A fact you can share with your employees. And if you’re in a hurry, it’d be better to share company information through emails rather than on chats or remote tools.
  • Data-security tools: Data breach can happen due to non-human errors. For remote teams, you’ve got to share information over a secure platform.
  • Virtual data room: By nature, virtual data rooms are secure, encrypted, and trackable. This will enable you to give users access to information based on their work, and you’ll know who accessed which info.

Remote work has become mainstream enough that managers need to reevaluate how they communicate with their remote teams. Remote workers are not stop-gap hires but prized employees who should be set up for their own and the company’s success.

That means promoting a culture of knowledge sharing and transparency that’ll bring out the best in them. To find remote employees worthy of your trust, contact us first.

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Ria Ghose

Ria Ghose

Ria Ghose is an SEO copywriter who helps businesses connect with their ideal customers. To learn how SEO copywriting can help your business, email ria@foodcopywriter.com.