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How To Build Trust Working From Home

A recent global Microsoft study found that 80% of employees believe they are just as productive working from home, while only 20% of managers agreed. Currently, 15% of 15 million job offers around the world are offering working from home as an option. This has dropped 5% since the Spring of this year. The amount of time full-time employees work from home around the world has levelled off at an average of 1.5 days per week since the pandemic. Although it is becoming less popular with employers, it is becoming more of a must for most employees.

The pandemic has given people a new perspective on work-life balance. Employees see the 40-hour work week as enough of a commitment without adding on another 5-10 hours, if not more with Dublin traffic, on a commute. Post-pandemic, the priorities of workers have changed. People want to live more wholesome, healthier lives and favour spending more time with family, exercising, and personal development rather than giving everything to work.

Because of Covid working from home was implemented overnight with little thought put behind it, but to help companies survive during the pandemic. The hybrid model of working between the office and home is where we are at post-pandemic. Now that we are out of survival mode, we need to continue to build trust between managers and employees and get the balance just right so it works for everyone involved. If it helps with employee wellbeing then we need to make it work.

Working from home provides the following benefits:

  • Less stress with time spent commuting

  • Greater productivity

  • A greener environment

  • Less traffic

  • Money saved

  • More job satisfaction

  • Less sickness

  • More time for exercise

  • More time for family and friends

  • More time for personal development

  • More time for further education

  • It demonstrates businesses care about their employees’ wellbeing

  • It helps organisations attract talent

What is workplace trust based on?

According to a study of 87,000 leaders, three elements are the foundation for workplace trust: positive relationships, good judgment/expertise, and consistency. Managers can apply these elements to the specific challenges and opportunities of leading hybrid or remote teams. Since these teams are geographically distant, managers must try to create a personal, positive, and consistent relationship with each team member:

Positive relationships. Trust is in part based on the extent to which a leader can create positive relationships with other people and groups. To instill trust a leader must:

  • Stay in touch with the issues and concerns of others.

  • Balance results in concern for others.

  • Generate cooperation between others.

  • Resolve conflict with others.

  • Helpfully give honest feedback.

Good judgment/expertise. Another factor in whether people trust a leader is an extent to which a leader is well-informed and knowledgeable. They must understand the technical aspects of the work as well as have a depth of experience. This means:

  • They use good judgment when making decisions.

  • Others trust their ideas and opinions.

  • Others seek after their opinions.

  • Their knowledge and expertise make an important contribution to achieving results.

  • Can anticipate and respond quickly to problems.

Consistency. The final element of trust is the extent to which leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do. People rate a leader high in trust if they:

  • Are a role model and set a good example.

  • Walk the talk.

  • Honor commitments and keep promises.

  • Follow through on commitments.

  • Are willing to go above and beyond what needs to be done.

5 tips to help build trust in your working from home workplace:

As remote work becomes a more permanent feature of the workplace, management will need to trust their teams to deliver, while assuring their managers they can be trusted to perform in a remote environment.

If you're struggling to build trust through your computer screen, consider implementing these five tips for developing and maintaining trust while working remotely.

  1. Trust others to gain trust. It's easy to trust your team when you can see them working right next to you, but remote work requires a bit of faith. As a leader show through your actions and trust your team. One of the best ways to create a trusting environment is by first demonstrating to your team that you trust them.

  2. Align your team's purpose and motives. If everyone on the team has a common purpose and motivation to do good work trust should come naturally. If you don't know what someone's motives are, then you might start to assume the worst. In a remote environment, you may need to make a point of vocalizing your motives, exhibiting competence, and consistently clarifying the team's common purpose.

  3. Over-communicate in the right way. Communication breakdowns can be detrimental to trust, especially in remote environments. Emails are often misconstrued, phone calls are void of body language, and even video calls can be hindered by time delays and frozen screens. Consider creating agreements across the team about how you're going to communicate with one another and stick to them for consistency. If you're falling behind on a project or priorities have changed, immediately notify anyone who might be affected by the delay so they can make adjustments. Overcommunicating, especially when working on a time-sensitive project, will go a long way toward cementing trust with colleagues.

  4. Show you care. Listening, empathy, transparency, and accountability are now crucial for people at all levels of organisations. People, culture, productivity, motivation, and mental health are all interdependent. Your employee’s well-being is as important as your company’s objectives. This can be tricky to pick up on in a remote environment so find ways to show you care and take an interest in your employee’s life outside of work.

  5. Avoid blaming culture. If you notice team members are quick to blame others for failures, that's a sign that trust levels are low. If management is seen to blame staff, this will trickle down to a blame culture.

This might result in an inability to ask for help, a lack of faith in leadership, and eventually, people will leave. Create an environment in which team members feel comfortable approaching each other with problems.

More than a quarter of all workers who currently work from home at least one day per week say they will quit or seek a new remote-friendly job if their employers mandate a full-time return to the office. Working from home is here to stay and offering it to employees is an excellent way of showing you care about their wellbeing. We just need to build trust and develop the right structures and skill sets within our teams to make it work.

If you could do with some help with implementing effective working-from-home strategies, Clearview offers training days and workshops to businesses to help lead high-performing teams and sustain new habits.


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