There are a lot of great things about remote workers: they can work unusual hours, they don’t waste any time commuting, and they minimize your need for office space. But there are downsides, too. Most of those downsides have to do with building and maintaining a positive relationship with your remote workers.
Building trust is key to any working relationship, personal or professional. As you work to build trusting relationships with your remote workers, you’ll reap the benefits of their loyalty to the company and commitment to their job.
Here are 5 things you can do to build trust with remote workers.
Communicate clearly and often.
One of the best things about working together in an office is that it makes communication so easy. If you need to ask a question, you can walk to that person’s desk and just…ask. Remote workers don’t have that luxury, which is why you need to set up communications systems that work—and then you need to use them.
What that looks like will be different for everyone. You might have to search for just the right chat system. You might want to schedule regular phone calls (or even better, video calls). Whatever you have to do, make sure that you’re keeping in touch like you would with someone in the office. Good, open, and honest communication builds trust.
Give honest feedback.
Similarly, communicating honestly about their job performance is important to building trust. You might think that your employees will be happier if you’re always saying good things about them and giving positive feedback. But in order to build trust, it’s more important to be honest, even if the truth is sometimes a little hard to hear.
Give honest feedback, but be positive and encouraging. That way, you’ll build trust without hurting employee morale.
Everyone wants to be listened to, and part of good communication is taking the time to listen. Make sure that remote employees don’t fall by the wayside when it comes to listening to their ideas. If there’s a discussion they should be participating in, make sure they’re present and give them their chance to speak their mind.
Additionally, remote workers can have valuable insight into behind-the-scenes processes at your company. If they speak up about something that isn’t working or is hindering their productivity, listen to them and work together to find a solution.
Create a culture of accountability.
Holding everyone—including leadership—accountable for their actions is important for building trust. Remote workers should feel like the entire team is working together to accomplish company goals, and that everyone is pulling their weight.
Set up processes that create a culture of accountability. This could include setting clearer expectations, requiring weekly check-ins, holding monthly evaluations, and rewarding team members who consistently exhibit high performance.
Assume the best.
People trust people who trust them. If you want your remote workers to trust you, show that you trust them. Offer them flexibility, praise, and support. Encourage them and be understanding when things get hard. Don’t jump to conclusions about what could be going on behind the scenes. Choose to assume the best about your remote employees and their intentions. They’ll feel the difference.
Building trust with remote workers can take a little extra work and deliberate thought. But it’s worth the effort in order to build a trusting working relationship that will serve you both for years to come.
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