Why is trust such a hard sell between companies and their virtual teams? Quite honestly, most managers aren't used to working on an honor system. Instead, they're accustomed to being able to see their staffers. Even if those staffers aren't actually doing anything--hello, rampant presenteeism--their physical presence puts supervisors at ease.
In time, distance can slowly erode the trust factor on both sides. Employers start to wonder if their employees are taking them for a ride. And employees harbor the sneaking suspicion that their employers aren't treating them like reliable professionals. Wash, rinse, repeat, and you have the makings of a Great Resignation on your hands.
Of course, you don't have to sit back and accept and wait for conditions to deteriorate. In OnPay's State of Small Business 2020 survey, 46 percent of remote workers felt their job was easier from home, and another 25 percent said it was about the same. In other words, your virtual employees are primed to do their best work remotely--they just need your help to feel completely trusted and supported by your company. Taking the following steps can help your team build bonds based on mutual respect and confidence.
1. Cool it with the surveillance software.
Are your remote staffers at their laptops or sneaking away for a quick snooze with a cuddly pet? You know that you could install surveillance software to find out, like 32 percent of other companies do, according to ComputerWorld. But is spying on your teams the right choice?
One of the best ways to show your employees that you trust them is by loosening your grip on the reins. Certainly, you should stay on top of their deliverables to ensure that work is getting done. However, as long as productivity is high and employees are responsive, you're better off investing in something other than a surveillance system.
2. Keep remote workers looped into vital conversations.
It's the bane of every remote worker's existence: being left out of important communications. Yet it can happen with shocking frequency. After all, telecommuters tend to be out of sight, which often puts them in the "out of mind" category when it comes to texts and emails.
Rather than risking a trust breakdown between you and your remote employees, double-check all information chains. Be sure that you're not forgetting to include your virtual workers on need-to-know items. This goes for all internal meetings, too. Cisco has gone so far as to mandate that 98 percent of corporate gatherings include one remote worker, per MIT research. However you go about it, be certain that remote team members know where things are headed and that they have a seat at the table.
3. Respect their right to a personal life.
Even when they're sick, remote workers can start to feel like they're not trusted enough to take a day off. According to Study Finds, 58 percent of telecommuters don't feel they can use their time off. Their fear? Retribution in a number of forms. Consequently, they plug away, with many working well past quitting time.
Unless you'd like to be known as an employer who demands 24/7 attention from your remote workers, make it clear that you want everyone to enjoy a personal life. This goes for the person in the cubby down the hall as well as the manager working from home three time zones away. Your commitment to honoring each worker's need for downtime will go far toward building trust.
Trust is a two-way street. Employ a give-and-take model that doesn't penalize remote workers just because they're not physically available. If they feel respected and in the loop, there's no reason their careers can't grow alongside your company -- no matter where everyone spends their days.