For many small and medium-sized businesses, this is the first time working with remote employees. Getting everyone up and running is difficult enough but then comes the challenge of communication, motivation, and trust. When trust is high, communication is open and flows smoothly, keeping everyone motivated to get the job done. Remember though, trust is a two-way street. When employees don't trust that management is being straight with them about the company's standing or when management doesn't trust that employees are getting their jobs done, the breakdown breeds conflict, low morale and dissent that can ultimately harm the company.
In February, Gallup research found that humans experience life about 30% rationally and 70% emotionally. That said, right now, emotions tend toward fear and uncertainty with six in ten Americans worried about COVID-19 exposure. According to the report, "Very worried people are not productive employees. The feelings followers need most are trust, compassion, stability, and hope."
According to a recent article by Forbes, typically we build trust through our regular daily interactions. However, in a remote working environment, your interactions are far from ideal and are infrequent and impersonal.
With daycare and schools closed, you can't expect a parent to work a straight 8-hour shift; or even 8 hours at all. This is the time to make compassionate compromises. Gallup's research showed that if ever there was a time to show care, it's now As Gallup noted, people are juggling new responsibilities, fears and problems, and they need to hear their managers and leaders say out loud that they understand, that the company is behind them, that they’ll get through this new situation together.
Below are four tips for ensuring the trust and stability that remote employees need to alleviate even a little of the worry so they can focus on work.
- Keep the lines of communication open - Use video chat to talk with your remote team on a weekly basis. Fill everyone in on what's going on in general with the business, set goals for each week, and talk about future plans. Everyone knows that these are unprecedented times and by sharing what you are doing to ensure business continuity and future growth will help ease fears and increase trust.
- Create a team charter - When everyone on a team understands the challenges that each other is facing, they can come together to find the best way to work together. Creating a charter that outlines the dynamics of the team, how they agree that they will work together, and puts in place the processes for completing work helps teams to mesh and to trust one another to get the job done.
- Monitor and measure - There's no better way to monitor performance that through the use of reports and dashboards that give you a true picture of your business. Project management preparation with due dates help and reviewing reports and monitoring outcome to expectations allow team member transparency.
- Kickoffs and look backs - Whenever a new project is started, hold a meeting with team members to discuss the expectations and timing. When a project is complete or on a month-end basis, meet to discuss what worked, what didn't work and what can be done to improve the next time. It might be a good time to adopting an agile work environment.
Trust is built over time from hard word and deliberate interaction, inclusivity, and transparency. It’s not easy, but worth the effort.