#WFH: Who Do You Trust Working From Home?
There are three major factor affecting trust in virtual workplace environments: the trust team members have in each other, the trust they have in leadership, and the trust they have in the technology. Trusting in each other to do the job and share knowledge is at the core of a company’s success. This is why so many organizations will have ann-al or biannual F2F meetings. Once we meet F2F, we tend to build more trusting relationships. It is important for individuals to be given the time and support to build strong relationships. Leaders play a huge role in facilitating this relationship connection. Leaders are responsible, together with the workers, for establishing the roles each party will play in collecting, synthesizing and distributing the knowledge. Knowledge is the currency of trust in a virtual environment. Knowledge is power. The organizational culture wants to support trust and allow employees to make independent and autonomous decisions (Ferrell & Herb, 2012). In turn, virtual employees need to be reliable and trustworthy enough to get the job done.
We can create team agreements or contracts if we want, but it is not always necessary or effective. It is helpful if we establish communication norms upfront. For example, establishing parameters on how and when we will schedule meetings, how we will handle time zone differences, and what the roles and responsibilities for team members are can clarify expectations. Clear expectations are important for trust.
Virtual employees also need to reasonably trust the technology to work. Whatever we are using for regular communication needs to work as seamlessly and transparently as possible. It is important that everyone trusts the technology. Establishing some ground rules can be very helpful too. What do we use and when (email, chat, intranet, phone, videoconference), and what is the expected response time? What criteria do we agree to for prioritizing is-sues? What are the rules for virtual meetings? Clear ground rules and expectations can avert burnout (Evans, 2011).
There are many different methods leadership can use to establish these guidelines. Leadership can determine the plan for meetings by defining simple and regular meeting outcomes. They can set the agenda by determining what key decisions need to be achieved and send a list of attendees. Some organizations will create charters or contracts on how interactions will take place. They will specify formal goals and policies and formalize the communication channels and limits. Others will try to achieve this by collaboration and consensus building. Whichever method you use, it is important is that boundaries are defined and clearly communicated (Ferrell & Herb, 2012). Simple performance indicators, when communicated, can go a long way in supporting better virtual interactions.