4 Ways to build trust in a remote workforce

Building trust in a remote workforce culture can be difficult with poor visibility into employee work processes. Learn four methods that can help...

The Virtual Workplace

Trust is the foundation to every strong relationship, and when it’s a working relationship that involves the transaction of money for hard work and communication, there is nothing more essential. 

Aron Ain, CEO of UKG, got it right when he wrote in his book, Work Inspired: “For a more engaged, higher-performing workforce, start by assuming competence, and then demonstrate to your people over and over again that you trust them.”

So why does this work? The simplest answer is that you get what you give, and it’s proven. When employees feel trusted and valued, they are 50% more productive, 76% more engaged, and 39% more satisfied at work, meaning they’ll stay with your organization longer.

Unfortunately, trust has gotten harder to give to employees since entering a post-pandemic business world of obscure remote workforce management. How do you trust new hires, struggling employees, those who want to take on more responsibility, and everyone in between if you have no visibility into their work? 

How to build trust in remote workplaces

Although it can be challenging, companies with remote teams need to embrace a new type of culture that promotes empowerment and trust to ensure their workforce can adapt and grow with their environments. Fortunately, business leaders can take a step in the right direction with these four tips for igniting trust in their remote workforce.

1. Encourage remote employees to build flexible schedules

The first step to building trust within your remote workforce is giving them a fully customizable work schedule. This means that remote employees can get their work done at their own time, with the flexibility they need as modern professionals. 

With household members learning or working from home simultaneously, the traditional workday is quickly changing. Managers need to understand that the schedules of their remote workers are constantly switching. Working parents, for example, have to balance work life and helping their kids with school work.

Companies can establish trust in a remote work environment by abandoning the traditional 9-to-5 workday. Instead, let your employees build a schedule that helps them become more productive than ever. A time that works best for each individual ensures increased productivity and low stress levels within remote teams.

Allowing your remote employees to build their own schedule is a win-win for both employees and your company because employees work when most productive, and companies receive the best possible work.

2. Promote work blocking and focus time

In remote work environments with poor visibility, companies can unintentionally bombard their employees with three common things:

  1. A heavy workload
  2. Low-priority admin or out-of-scope work tasks
  3. And too many meetings

This pressure can have a devastating effect on employee morale because it causes employees to feel like they always have to be online and visible, at the beck and call of their manager for tasks that don’t always fall under their responsibility. 

This dynamic causes fatigue, low performance, and workforce conflicts, which often leads to unhealthy levels of trust amongst team members. To put this into perspective, 82% of remote employees report feeling pressured to work more hours.

Handling multiple projects or clients makes it difficult for remote teams to focus on a single task, and employees may need space to focus on a particular project for extended periods. Constantly piling work on such employees means they don't have the luxury to turn off their messaging tool and dedicate their time to a single project.

According to several studies, “monotasking” is more effective and productive than multitasking. To promote monotasking, you can suggest work blocking to keep your teams focused on single projects with zero distractions while also reducing communication overload that contributes to lowered productivity.

Promoting focus time and work blocking ensures your remote workers feel that they don't always need to be available. Even when offline, the team will trust that each employee is being as productive as possible. It’s easy for workers to give their best when they feel trusted to complete tasks, despite being offline.

3. Build an open and supportive culture

Most leaders and managers make the mistake of supporting their employees only during the big wins. Don’t forget to support your employees during challenging times, and also celebrate the small wins. Your remote teams need to know that they’re backed by their managers, HR, and other departments through both highs and lows.

Remote management solutions leverage data to help managers lead and support their teams at all times, from pinpointing project blockers to improving digital adoption. The gained insights shed light on areas that need improvement to help with employee performance. However, the key to building trust starts with using your team’s productivity and digital adoption insights to offer positive support rather than micro-manage.

For instance, modern productivity tools can show that a lot of time and resources are wasted on meetings or frequent, low-priority tasks. If this is the case, managers and company leaders should design a solution to reduce meetings and boost productivity. This also improves your bottom line by cutting costs, especially when you’re operating on a tight budget.

According to one survey, 41% of remote employees are burning out from balancing work and life. Managers can use data-backed insights in remote management solutions to identify which employees need encouragement to maintain a better work / life blend. 

For instance, if you can see that an employee has already completed an eight-hour work day and is still burning the midnight oil, reach out to them to check in on their work capacity. Solutions could include helping them deprioritize certain tasks, push back on challenging deadlines, or even start looking for an intern. 

Overall, offering guidance can help your remote team feel seen and like an integral part of the company, thus fostering trust.

4. Implement a technology that supports employees rather than monitors them

Some companies implement employee work surveillance technology that puts employee privacy at risk, which can have devastating effects on your company. Even in the average company, many employers can access almost everything their employees do electronically, whether they’re sending an email in Gmail, using a simple browser, or communicating via a workplace collaboration tool like Slack.

This all goes to show that employee privacy protections are actually very light. However, the invasiveness and secrecy of monitoring and surveillance tech brings down morale, guarantees employees do no more than the bare minimum and encourages cutting corners.

Surveillance technology can also create paranoia because most people feel uncomfortable when their every move is watched (especially by their employers). It destroys trust within remote workforces and makes employees feel uncomfortable, hurting a company’s ability to attract and retain talent. 

Instead of using surveillance technology, companies should adopt a people-first remote management solution to encourage trust and reignite the human connection among a scaling remote workforce. Software like Pattyrn aggregates data across your existing work management tools to pinpoint where employees are excelling and where they need additional support, rather than invading the privacy of remote employees. With tools like Pattyrn, you can build trust by ensuring you put your employees first and technology second.

Building trust in a remote workforce takes time and guidance

Managing employees in an office-free world is quite challenging for leadership and management because they are accustomed to the traditional in-office workplace model. 

However, emerging technology — like Pattyrn — makes it easier for leadership teams to keep a pulse on their teams without the need to micromanage or monitor their work with invasive technology. You get to have a fully transparent and negotiable work environment that fosters trust, honesty, and collaboration. Most importantly, that’s what so many employees say they want and need from their employer in today’s challenging environment.

If you’re struggling to build trust in your remote workforce, we’re here to help. At Pattyrn, we can help you create a more collaborative, trust-grounded, and open remote work environment. You can empower your employees to become more productive with recommendations that motivate instead of dictating work behaviors.

To learn more about building trust in your remote workplace, check out our blog to get all the information you need. It’s time to empower your remote employees to deliver quality work faster while taking charge of their workdays.

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