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Remote Work: Building Trust in the Virtual Workplace

November 17, 2023
Hybrid Working

Mark Mortensen and Heidi K. Gardner have written a great article about the growing issue of mistrust of remote workers with more employees questioning the productivity of their colleagues who are working from home.

They argue that trust is being undermined because the signals about actions, motivations and reliability required to trust others are harder to pick up when colleagues are working remotely.

It’s hard to believe that anyone would think that monitoring is the answer although clearly some do with increasing sales of tools to track employees.

The article suggests better approaches that rely on the science of trust such as:

  • Leveraging reciprocal trust – the more you trust someone the more they will trust you in return and the less likely they will be to betray your trust.
  • Building a trust staircase – build trust through repeated, small, reinforcing steps that develop trust over time leading up to more significant demonstrations of trustworthiness.
  • Engaging in status quo communication - trust depends on predictability and communicating what will not change helps reduce uncertainty.
  • Understanding that trust building varies between individuals– get a picture of the other’s approach to building trust and adapt accordingly.

Monitoring can cause more harm than good, potentially lowering morale and increasing attrition and burnout.  

In our view it's clear that leaders should consider the smarter approaches to tackling concerns about trust outlined in the article.

Read the full article here.

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