How to Build Trust with New Hires of Your Remote Team
By Richard Conn, RingCentral US on April 7, 2021
With the shift to remote working comes a lot of technological challenges. For example, virtual meetings are now integral to the way we collaborate with colleagues and clients alike. To a growing number of employers, the benefits of remote working — including increased productivity and greater convenience for employees — are becoming ever clearer.
But there are still hurdles to clear. People have adapted remarkably well to remote working, but there are still some areas that we’ve yet to master. This is inevitable; we’ve all been on a sharp learning curve.
Technology can be challenging enough at the best of times, and it’s constantly forcing us to ask new questions, whether it’s how to integrate new technologies into our set-up, how to train staff to use them, or, for example, “what is CCaaS?”
One of the most important challenges we face in moving to remote working is how to maintain team spirit and morale. While some people prefer the privacy of working from home, others relish and value the feeling of being part of a team - something bigger than yourself - and working towards the achievement of shared goals.
This is why it’s so important to maintain close team bonds even among people who are physically far apart from one another. Choosing the right web-based collaboration tools can go a long way to achieving this.
But it’s particularly difficult for new recruits to feel as if they’re truly part of a team when they’re being recruited and working remotely. When you’re working many miles away from your colleagues, that feeling of a common purpose is often absent.
Communication, too, can suffer: it’s not always easy for newcomers working remotely to work out who they should ask for help. Or to help them get a feel for what they’re doing and where they work. It’s crucial, therefore, that you make the effort to reach out to recruits and build trust with them. As well as fostering it between them and their colleagues.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of trust at work, how remote working affects this, and then list some top tips.
The Importance of Trust at Work
Trust is the foundation of strong workplace relationships and a key building block of long-term loyalty. When you bring a new member into your team, you hope that they’ll stick around for the long haul. Not least because staff turnover is such an expensive business. Recruiting new people, training them, and then building them up to full productivity takes time and costs money, both of which are always at a premium.
For colleagues to work harmoniously with one another in any line of work, trust is essential. Colleagues have to know that they can rely on one another to do the job well and provide the support the team needs. It also comes down to personality and cultural fit as well, of course, and the importance of these shouldn’t be overlooked.
Building trust among colleagues working remotely - people who might meet in person only rarely, if ever - is especially fraught with difficulty. Normally, it could be relatively simple just to introduce colleagues to one another, go out for drinks to chat informally, and get to know each other better. Colleagues who are working on the same team but physically miles apart, however, can find it much harder to properly get to know one another.
That’s not to say that it’s impossible. Indeed, a growing number of organizations — employers of all sizes, such as those that provide business VoIP services, nonprofits focusing on a range of causes, and so many others — are making a particular effort to foster close team spirit and collaboration among remote workers. A lot of this is down to having the appropriate remote collaboration tools, but there’s more to it than that. As an employer, you also need to strive continually to improve communication within your remote team.
There are various things employers can do to strengthen bonds, foster a sense of belonging and loyalty, and build trust with new remote hires. In the next section, we’ll list a range of top tips to help you do exactly that.
6 Tips for Building Trust with Remote Hires
An engaged workforce is far more likely to be focused on its work and to stick around for the long term. But when you’re bringing new remote hires into your team, it can be hard to work out how to build this kind of employee engagement. Here are some useful suggestions you should bear in mind.
1. Don’t Neglect Training
It’s always useful, in these situations, to put yourself in the employee’s position as best you can. If you were an employee, you’d doubtless be looking for opportunities to better yourself, expand your skillset, and work your way up the career ladder.
Training, therefore, is hugely important. Remote workers must be provided not just with the training they need to do their job, but to enhance their understanding of what they’re doing and open up new opportunities.
Be sure to consult with recruits and ask them what their aspirations and goals are. This should help you get a better idea of the kind of training they might appreciate and benefit from. They’ll also no doubt respect the fact that you’ve made the effort to ask them what they think. Your business, too, will reap the rewards of this by unlocking the potential of these new recruits.
2. Ensure Everyone’s Playing to Their Strengths
It’s also important to make sure that the members of your team are performing roles for which they’re genuinely well-suited. It’s never a good idea to try and force square pegs in round holes, so to speak. If you’re recruiting new members of your team, you need to ensure that they’re playing to their strengths - this is something that applies equally whether they’re working remotely or in person.
Again, take the time to speak to new hires about what they feel their strengths are and try to allocate them tasks that suit those strengths. There will always be a degree of flexibility depending on the resources you have available. Methods such as skill-based routing, though, can help to ensure that skills are used efficiently.
3. Make Time to Socialize
Don’t forget that when working remotely, it’s vital to make allowances for proper downtime. Employees need to be able to take time away from the daily grind to chat with one another about topics that aren’t work-related. This is how people get to know each other. If everything is focused on work all the time, it’s almost impossible to get a genuine feel for what colleagues are like as individuals.
Provide employees with enough time to look up from their work to talk and get to know each other. You could also encourage them to undertake virtual team activities, like games and quizzes. This provides a welcome distraction as well as boosting team spirit.
4. Encourage Open Communication
Communication is essential in any healthy workplace. If colleagues are bottling up their anxieties, fears, or resentments, this is likely to produce a toxic environment. This, in itself, can be a distraction for employees, thereby preventing them from performing to the best of their ability.
Open communication should work in multiple ways: team leaders must be clear in their communications, employees must be free to communicate among themselves, and they should also be encouraged to come forward to discuss issues with managers.
The cornerstone of good communication is a clear allocation of responsibilities and tasks. Be sure that you’re crystal clear about what you expect of your team and the standards they expect you to set. Make sure everyone understands what work has been allocated to them; platforms like Trello and various alternatives can make this task more straightforward.
5. Reward Talent and Hard Work
Another crucial factor in building trust with new recruits is ensuring that they’re rewarded for their skills and their efforts. Again, this is something which is complicated somewhat by the shift from office-based to working from home. When you’re in an office with a colleague, it’s perhaps easier to see how they’re applying themselves as they’re in close proximity. When working remotely, it’s different.
To compensate for this, you should set clear goals and benchmarks for your colleagues to meet, so they have something to aim for and know fully what’s expected of them. Once they meet these targets, however, they need to be properly rewarded for their efforts.
For example, you could reward them with gift certificates offering them discounts at their favorite stores. You can easily find a gift certificate creator online.
6. Use Workplace Giving to Engage Employees
Workplace giving programs — many of which include virtual volunteering — engage your employees regardless of seniority and benefit your organization in a variety of ways. However, because these programs have become the virtual watercooler around which a distributed workforce gathers and shares experiences and ideas, employee giving is also a particularly useful tool in engaging new recruits.
America’s Charities research shows that most workers want opportunities to support their favorite causes while at work. When you provide your colleagues with an easy-to-use workplace giving platform, you demonstrate trust in their choices and investment in their passions. That, in turn, increases their job satisfaction while simultaneously meeting the expectations of new candidates, thereby improving your recruitment efforts.
Building Trust: Are You Ready?
One of the benefits of remote working is that it allows employers to recruit from a far wider pool of talent, as they’re no longer as constrained by distance and the need to commute. But bringing remote recruits on board requires a special effort to make them feel welcome. By following simple guidelines like these, you could go a long way to building real trust and strong personal relationships with remote recruits.
While much has changed about the way we work thanks to the advent of remote working, many of the fundamentals remain the same. Ensuring lasting trust always involves reliably open communication, honesty, good rewards for hard work, and investing in your team’s strengths and passions. And once trust is established, your team is much more likely to stick around for the long haul.
About the author: Richard Conn is the Senior Director, Search Marketing for RingCentral, a global leader in unified communications and audio conferencing solutions.
He is passionate about connecting businesses and customers and has experience working with Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Experian, Target, Nordstrom, Kayak, Hilton, and Kia.
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