How To Build Trust With Employees Who Work Remotely

When it comes to recruitment of young staff, we often emphasise what it is the current generation of job seekers are looking for. 

With Gen Z, diversity and inclusivity in the workplace are important and young people will look for evidence of that in your workplace and in your branding. 

And, particularly since the pandemic, the desire to have the opportunity to work remotely at least some of the time is high up on many people’s lists.

We often give employers tips on how to attract young people to vacancies and flexible working, where the opportunity to work remotely is one of those tips.

But if the nature of your roles lend themselves to remote working and you haven’t yet gone down that avenue and fully embraced this way of working, is it because you are concerned about how it will work for you.

When your staff are in the office or workplace, everyone is together. Discussions are easier and it is also easier to measure productivity. If some members of your team are working particularly well, you can see that with your own eyes. 

Likewise, you can also sometimes spot the opposite.You might be spotting that some of your staff are becoming disengaged and you want to nip that in the bud by ensuring they become re-engaged

You might feel that having everyone in the workplace at all times gives you more control over targets and productivity and staff welfare. 

But in our recent article about the increase in rates of staff burnout, remote working was mentioned as one of the ways people could make use of to avoid burnout. 

If you have staff who are working remotely, how do you know they are working the hours they are contracted to work? How do you know they are being productive and doing what they would have been doing had they been in the office. How do you make sure you are communicating effectively?

The fact is, when it comes to embracing remote working for your company, there is a lot of trust involved. You need to trust that everyone is doing the job they are paid to do. 

If your staff don’t feel that they are trusted, this can lead to them overworking and cause stress and eventual burnout. 

Here are some strategies you can use to build that trust with your remote staff. 

Build A Positive Employer-Employee Relationship

It’s all about getting that balance right when you are communicating with your remote staff. Especially with your young staff who are working remotely, as a leader, they will still be looking to you for positive feedback on projects and other work they have done.

They also need regular communication from you about upcoming work and progress updates. A regular check in on their welfare will make them feel supported and valued, too.

Your staff want to feel trusted and empowered to get on with their job. However, if you fail to check in regularly, this can lead to them feeling under-valued. 

Checking in too regularly, on the other hand, with too many targets and questions about remote work practice can be seen as micromanagement. 

For managers and team leaders, this can be time consuming but there is lots of software out there that can help staff and leaders communicate effectively so that everyone feels like they are working as part of a team.

And for some workplaces, it might also be possible to schedule time where everyone meets in person at regular intervals so that you can all check in with each other.

Set Clear Expectations

Again, this works both ways. Having clear expectations of your team of staff means they know what they need to be doing during their working days and weeks. Amy deadlines that need to be met. Any targets that need to be aimed for.

Especially with younger staff who might not be so experienced in the world of work, it is also important to have clear expectations for your team as to when they shouldn’t be working. Make sure they aren’t feeling the need to work longer hours because they haven’t got a long commute, for example, or they don’t need to leave the premises for a lunch break.

Stressing the importance of taking breaks and starting and finishşng work on time means your staff are less likely to feel stressed. When workşing from home, it is easy for staff to forget to switch off and have a fulfilling work life balance. 

Check in with this so staff feel valued and appreciated. 

Encourage Communication Between Your Team

Whilst lots of people enjoy the opportunity to work remotely, the fact that they are not in the workplace means they might not have a sense of belonging in the company as a whole.

If possible, make time for situations where yourself and staff can get together not just in work meetings but also in a more informal setting where you can chat a bit more freely. This can be about how they are feeling about their work life but also life outside of work, too.

If friendships are fostered then the sense of belonging is boosted and this can, in turn, boost your staff retention.

These types of meetings can be especially valuable for younger team members.

Make Sure Your Door Is Always Open

It is still possibşe to have an open door policy with your staff even when they are working remotely. You can implement digital systems so that if staff have any questions or need to raise any issues with you, they know they can reach you.

Some of your staff might be working remotely in a different country for some or all of the time and, obviously, these can have different time zones. 

No need for you to be on alert 24 hours a day just in case a member of your team needs to contact you. Using relevant software can give you the ability to reply to questions and issues promptly and, of course, you can have an ‘out of office’ message so that staff know you will get back to them when it is your working time. 

There’s More Than One Way To Work

If having remote workers in your company is a new approach and a new way of working for you, then be open to new ideas about how to make this work best for you.

Systems you have in place for your staff who are working in the office are not necessarily going to be appropriate for your remote staff. 

Again, research software and other tools that can help you to keep the lines of communication open with your remote staff. Software and tools that will also allow them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. 

This benefits you as an employer, saving you lots of time and you also get a more productive, happy team.

If you have the open door policy and staff know they can approach you with ideas, be open to any suggestions from your remote staff about ways to work more efficiently. They might come up with new suggestions that will really benefit the company. 

Be Inclusive

Out of sight, out of mind? This can be the thoughts of some of your remote staff when it comes to what’s happening in the workplace.

Communicating with staff in the office might come as second nature to you but you also need to make sure your remote team of workers are kept up to date with what’s happening.

This can be anything from company decisions to informal get togethers. Make sure your staff who are working from home feel like they are a full member of your team.

When it comes to time to consider staff for promotion, take care not to overlook those who put in the effort when they are working from home. If they need to be in the office more after promotion, this could be something they are prepared to do. 

Likewise with any inhouse training or courses takşng place outside the workplace. If this will benefit your team, make sure your remote staff are gşven the opportunity to do the training, too. 

A more knowledgeable staff benefits you as an employer so it pays to make sure remote staff are given the opportunity to keep their knowledge and skills right up to date. 

Be Fair With All Staff

There are variıhs reasons for staff requesting to work from home. Depending on the nature of your company, you could already have an established team of remote staff or you might be dipping your toes into giving some staff the opportunity to work from home.

In the latter case, it is important to be fair about who is given the opportunity to work from home.

If you have lots of office-based staff and some staff are asking to work from home some or all of the time, try to find out why they want to work from home. Some staff may have altered circumstances outside of work that means they need to work from home. Where possible, be flexible with these needs. 

If you have been seen to be flexible with a member of staff in agreeing to a work from home situation, other members of staff may also want a similar situation. Be fair and realistic so that the needs of the company are met and also the needs of your staff. 

If there are times when working from home is not possible, be clear and open about this so that staff don’t feel others are getting preferential treatment. 

Having a company culture where staff can have the opportunity to work remotely can have its challenges but, dealt with effectively, it can be a win-win situation for both employers and staff. 

Staff are generally happier, less tired and more productive because they feel trusted and recognised. This means your staff retention will be given a boost and sick days for tiredness, stress and burnout should be reduced. 
If you are looking to recruit new young talent to your workplace, place your job ad with e4s and reach your targeted audience.