Remote Trust

There is a lot of debate around remote and hybrid working at the moment. What is your take? Competing priorities for leaders around the cost of real estate verses employee flexibility can be difficult to navigate. In other words, it sounds like the needs of the employee compete with the needs of the organisation. However, you would be wise to remember, at the heart of the debate is the issue of trust. Reading an article recently, published by Harvard Business Review, has helped clarify some thinking presenting its research-based opinion.

The headline in the research suggests:

*“Employees want to choose where and when they work.”

The article pivots around the issue of autonomy. From a high autonomy where the employee chooses when and where they work and has the ability to come into the office if they want to limited autonomy where either you can work anywhere other than an office or there are a limited number of days in the office and you choose when you come in, and finally a low autonomy environment where you are in-office full time, where you are is chosen for you (days in the office, days at home).

Which is right?

The researchers defined work experience around eight different metrics. What they found was “When asked how their work arrangements impact various aspects of their work experience, high-autonomy employees report the highest levels of belonging, motivation, productivity, trust in team, trust in leaders, work-life balance, and mental well-being. In some cases, these scores are more than 20% higher than their low autonomy counterparts.”

Note the higher experienced trust in team and trust in leaders. These are complex issues and they require leadership to be more agile and flexible going forward. In one sense, with remote working, the genie is already out of the bottle.

As mentioned in my last blog, I spent time with an organisation last week where most of the team work remotely. They gather once a month as a whole team and are finding this method of working is effective. In your context, you will need to navigate the new landscape of remote working. I would encourage you to start with trusting your team.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R. Covey

Communication is key and for your communication to be effective it must be done in an atmosphere of trust. For Millennials and Gen Z the evidence suggests the “office” is wherever I can plug my laptop in and have a decent internet connection. Trust allows both you as the leader and team members to wrestle this through.

How to Build Trust

“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”  – Warren Bennis

  • Self- Awareness – if you don’t know yourself you can’t lead yourself
  • Be intentional.
  • Leader goes first if trust is to be built then you need to exercise trust in your team.
  • Trust is built when the leader brings the right challenge and support.
  • Be vulnerable. Be open about mistakes and look for the learning.
  • You are not a superhero. Use team strengths.
  • Create an environment that doesn’t punish vulnerability.
  • Do what you say you will do. Follow through on promises made.
  • Competency – Exhibit the capabilities and experience which give the team confidence that you can lead.
  • Finally, act for the highest good of other people.

We’re in a new landscape but one that can be approached in a collaborative or combative way.

Which way will you go?

Stay safe.

PS. If you want the full article from the Harvard Business Review, you can read it here.  

*HBR article: Balancing Autonomy and Structure for Remote Employeesby Holger Reisinger, Paul Sephton, and Dane Fetterer

May 13, 2022

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

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Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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