If you cannot see your remote contractors, how do you know they are working?
If you have not employed a virtual team before, you may have some initial concerns:
“Are my remote contractors working instead of doing the laundry?”
“Will they be there when I need support?”
The truth is you do not know. But it all comes down to developing trust.
It is natural to have these concerns, but there are monitoring technologies that give you a comprehensive understanding of what your remote contractor has been working on. However, you should not rely on these monitoring technologies. Neither should you monitor your remote contractors at all times. Healthy remote work relationships are built on a foundation of trust.
Shifting from a traditional office setup to remote work can have a dramatic impact on your working relationships. It can lead to feelings of isolation for your remote contractors if you do not continue to build and nurture those relationships in your virtual working environment. Just like you, they may also develop trust issues. They may worry about not getting paid on time or doubt your ability to lead them in a new work setting.
If you want your business to succeed, you have to nurture your work relationships because businesses are built on them. And trust is the foundation of all work relationships. With trust, no matter how many times you and your team disagree, no one feels like they are being discriminated against or victimised. You feel free to express your ideas without the fear of being treated unfairly. This freedom and lack of fear can help you come to an agreement and make decisions much faster. The sooner you make decisions, the sooner your team can get work done.
Having a strong sense of trust within your team cuts down the time you spend discussing issues because you trust each other’s judgment and expertise. It also increases morale among your team, giving you the ability to work more effectively as one.
Trust is a decision you make to believe in another person’s character and capabilities. It is a decision because trust does not come naturally or easily. It is earned or given, depending on a lot of factors. In the workplace, trust can be earned or given based on two things: Reliability and Likeability.
It is only natural to trust reliable employees more than incompetent ones, especially in terms of getting the job done and getting it done right. That is because the reliability factor has a huge impact on how your team can deliver well on your goals, make good decisions, and be a strong pillar of support for your business.
Ask yourself the following questions to assess your trust on your remote contractors:
1. Do I trust my remote contractors to follow through?
2. Do I trust my remote contractors’ judgement?
3. Do I trust my remote contractors to represent me and my business?
Another factor that affects our ability to trust someone is likeability. When we like someone, we feel safe around them, and we think that they will not do anything to harm us or put us in a dangerous situation. We can be who we are without any fear of being judged and maligned. It’s the same in the workplace. The level of likeability among your team affects how your team engages with one another, your level of happiness and satisfaction, as well as your perceived integrity.
Gauge how much you trust your remote contractors in terms of likeability by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Do I trust my remote contractors to practice discretion?
2. Do I trust my team members to respect others?
3. Do I trust my team members’ intentions?
Aside from requiring deliberate effort, trust is also something that should be mutual. As a leader, trust that your employees will act responsibly when working remotely. Also, your employees must trust that you will act in their best interest and help them to be successful.
However, creating a culture of trust is a top-down responsibility. It starts with you, the leader of your team. Your role is vital in establishing trust among your team. If your team members sense that you trust them, they will surely follow your lead.
Of course, trusting someone is not easy now that we are at an age wherein we have already experienced a lot in life. By now, we know that there are people who are worthy of our trust and who are not. We also know the consequences of trusting someone we hardly know.
This is also true for a remote team. It is harder to trust someone you hardly know and who is working with you all the way from the other side of the world. The distance makes it hard to create a bond in order to get to know each other. You will have to hurdle through a number of challenges. It’s a lot of work, and you will have to muster enough patience to succeed.
“I repeat… that all power is a trust–that we are accountable for its exercise–that, from the people, and for the people, all springs, and all must exist.”– Benjamin Disraeli
The same principles you applied to establish trust and respect with your co-located team can be applied in a remote setting. You just need to be more deliberate about it. Here are ways that can help you set the tone for your whole team in building trust among yourselves.
1. Set up regular online meetings or virtual coffee chats to help remote contractors with challenges or obstacles.
2. Encourage independent decision making regarding their productivity, time-management, and work-space environment.
3. Ensure your technology is secure and that you offer support for your remote contractors to complete work efficiently.
4. Make sure your team understands clear goals.
5. Actively participate (don’t multitask) in team meetings.
6. Take the time to assist your remote contractors when they reach out to you.
7. Use collaboration/project management tools to keep everyone accountable.
8. Set tasks, projects, and goals with timelines.
9. Track progress towards milestones on a longer-term basis rather than on an hourly or daily. Focus on the outcomes, not just activities or the amount of time spent on tasks.
10. Support your managers who oversee remote contractors and make sure they have a healthy attitude toward them.
11. Compare the outcomes of remote contractors with co-located workers and look for ways to keep them both consistent.
“Without trust, you have nothing.”–Tamara Ecclestone
Successful remote working relationships are based on trust. Without it, you won’t be able to get your remote contractors to accomplish anything for your business and help them advance their skills. You will always have anxieties about entrusting important tasks to them, which can be detrimental to the growth of your business. Sooner or later, they will feel that you don’t trust them enough, forcing them to find new opportunities where they can contribute more and feel valued.
Establishing trust in a remote work setup should be intentional. It will not happen organically. You have to take risks in order to show your remote contractors that you trust them and that they can trust you as well.
In a Nutshell
Getting to Know Activities Template (coming soon)