Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, every industry that was able to adapt to an online
model was forced to take the leap in spring of 2020. Over a year later, while some places
have slowly begun to re-open, many are still working remotely. Some may even stay that
way permanently, such as Twitter which has allowed its employees the option to work
remotely forever, even once the pandemic has ended. Other companies such as Netflix
have offered the remote work option for the years ahead. This is to ensure employees
could have the trust and flexibility needed to lead their lives while getting work done on
The New Normal
We’ve heard the phrase “the new normal” tossed around for a while, and it’s started to
sink in. Working remotely has become normal for many industries and will continue to
be something many of us need to adjust and adapt to. Without being able to go into a
physical office and see our bosses and colleagues on a daily basis, the way in which we
communicate about work has significantly changed.
Now, it’s all about trusting that, while you cannot see or talk to someone in person, they
will be responsible enough to get their work done and communicate as necessary.
There’s no doubt that it can be “harder to build trust when teams are separated,” but it
can be done.
Keys to Building Trust Virtually
A company’s values need to be established first and foremost so there is a blanket
understanding that all employees and their bosses can operate within.
Transparency: Sometimes communication in an office comes from proximity,
from overhearing things or being able to share them more easily. Working
remotely, these lines of transparency can easily blur or even vanish. It can be
helpful to set up a weekly department meeting over Zoom or the like to catch
everyone up on what’s going on and what they need to be aware of.
Communication: There needs to be pre-determined and established agreements
on when and how much to communicate. For example, if normal working hours
are between 9a and-6pm, then an employee should still be available during those
hours while working remotely. Agree in advance upon a time to take lunch or how
often to check in. Depending upon your industry and role, once a day (either at
the start or end) may be better suited for check-ins. Other roles, such as assistant
positions, may need to keep an open line of communication during all working
hours as they are working on an as-needed basis.
Reliability: Perhaps one of the most critical elements of establishing trust
virtually is reliability. This may take some time to establish but, can be done
through proper communication and delivering tasks in a timely manner. This will
demonstrate that both you and your colleagues are reliable, even in a virtual
No Micromanaging: Managers need to be mindful not to micromanage virtually.
Some who have trust issues may feel the need to check-in too frequently, which
can come across as micromanaging and pestering the employees, and this is
likely to stress them out. Delegate tasks, be clear about what is due and when,
and trust that your colleagues will deliver. If they do not, then it is time to have
Like any other relationship, establishing trust virtually takes time and effort from both
parties. Encourage open communication and a safe space for people to share how
they’re feeling. While some people thrive when working from home, others may be
struggling and miss being out of their house and around their coworkers. It’s important
to be supportive of one another in these times and move forward in a way that can be a
balance for everyone.