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3 Ways to Create Trust in a Virtual Workplace

Trust is an essential part of any well functioning organization – not just between you and your clients/customers or the market, but also internally between workers. Building trust within a workplace can be a challenge, and it can feel even more difficult when you’re operating in a remote environment and communicating digitally. So how do you go about developing trust?  

The Importance of Trust

Meet Boss. He’s our friendly, furry subject matter expert here at PathWise Solutions. Boss works from home, and he likes to help others do the same. In fact, Boss recently helped us develop a series of eLearning courses about working from home called Mastering Remote Work. You can access the introductory course for free here. If you like it, please share it!

One topic Boss is enthusiastic about is trust. Trust is key in our work, either as an effective means of constructing a new team or as a purposeful way to strengthen existing teams. Trust builds connections. It helps us do our work better, and builds a core of stability within an organization. Different studies show it also leads to increased productivity and better overall morale. 

So what does Boss have to say about how to build trust? Here are three suggestions you can follow to make a big difference in your organization. 

Build Relationships

How can you build trust when you can’t see each other? By building relationships. Relationships are at the heart of any organization and, whether online or in person, they take time and effort to develop. If you’re not used to building relationships online, it may take practice. But, like any new skill, it’s only a matter of time until you figure out what works.

You can make the effort to get to know your staff, their interests, and what they find important. You can check on how they are doing, what they need, and how they are adapting to remote work. You can find out ways they prefer to communicate, and what tools and apps help them to be more productive. In short, take sincere interest in your staff, grow the relationship, and deepen the trust. 

And don’t be afraid to be open and honest. The more transparent you are, the more you trust each other, and the more everyone can do their work without feeling like they have to micromanage or be micromanaged. 

Engage Your Staff

Trust can also grow when an employee feels more engaged in their work. How can you engage people when they aren’t in an office setting? In lots of ways, at different levels.  

On a team level, you can give staff roles to play in department functioning – for example, at virtual staff meetings, they can moderate questions, be the note taker, or be encouraged to present an idea. Draw in quieter employees, use breakout rooms (many virtual tools allow for this) for small group discussions, and encourage questions.  

On an interpersonal level, you can create opportunities for team members to get to know each other by allowing social time in meetings, or by setting up social media channels or chat windows that are for fun, non-work related topics. On a personal level, you can work with staff one on one to make a flexible schedule to suit their specific needs. 

The bottom line: if you get your remote team more involved, they’ll feel appreciated and increased trust will  follow.

Increase Communication

Increased engagement requires communication. When you work in an office, lots of communication happens in different settings and in different ways. Maybe you pop into a friend’s office to visit, smile at someone in the copy room, wave to a friend at the tea counter, or go to lunch with your supervisor. Communication leads to trust, so extra care has to be made to ensure enough communication is happening in your virtual office. Also remember to communicate early, so that your team has the information they need in time to do their work. 

Use a variety of communication tools to accommodate different people. Consider virtual whiteboards, chat windows, project management apps, or even traditional phone calls. Connect regularly with your team and encourage them to do the same with each other. Set clear expectations for what needs to be done and when. Establish communication protocols for projects and make sure to include everyone on the team.

“Trust is the new currency of our interdependent, collaborative world.”
 – Stephen M.R Covey

Trust is like the glue that binds people together. When you find ways to build trust in a virtual workplace, like building stronger personal relationships, increasing engagement levels, and adding more thorough communication channels, the result will be Boss approved! 

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