Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

Three things you can do to build trust and culture of innovation remotely

We’re finally starting to get ready to return to “normal”—whatever that means—after more than a year of working remotely while sheltering at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As the prospect of hybrid work becomes a reality for many, we decided to share some tips on ways we can build camaraderie, collaboration, and community while working remotely or in hybrid settings.

Remote culture development is a big topic and was growing in popularity with remote working opportunities popping up everywhere even before the pandemic. While remote culture development has not been remote enough, its popularity has been heightened by the pandemic. However, one of the most difficult challenges remote teams face is building a healthy, trusting environment.

People need a sense of belonging to feel like they’re part of a remote working culture. And in remote working environments, it’s typical for people to feel alienated or disconnected from their remote team members. Everyone is like the “lone wolf” who drifts from group discussions to group discussions, project to project without feeling a sense of belonging. They feel out of touch with their team members and managers which can lead to a feeling of isolation leading to low morale and decreased productivity.

Trust used to be built through face-to-face interactions. The chance encounters, the coffee breaks, the high-fives, the elevator rides… and we all miss those serendipitous connections, don’t we? But the reliance on text messages, phone calls, or video conferences for all communication has made remote company culture less engaging.

First of all, it’s a myth that remote workers are less engaged and lack the empathy of their onsite counterparts. In fact, research shows remote employees can be more engaged than onsite ones. What matters is how we manage remote work culture.

Here are three important things to remember when building remote culture:

a) Remember the importance of serendipity and social dynamics in remote work settings.

b) Access to resources matters. Physical or digital, easy access to resources helps people feel integrated into the larger organization

c) Strong, collaborative, and inclusive line of communication can help you get the best out of remote employees.

Building culture of trust and culture of innovation with the remote workforce may be challenging, but it’s possible. And more companies are seeing the benefits from allowing flexibility to their people and changing their remote work policies as a result. And here are three things you can do to build a culture of trust and innovation:

Expect and accept everyone’s whole selves at work

If there was a silver lining from 2020, it may be that we came to truly understand our coworkers as individuals and established room for life to seep into the workplace. While this was hardly a choice, it sure helped illustrate how much of our true selves we’d kept separate at work before. And it highlighted the potential for deeper, more empathetic connections. Extra shout outs to those who care for family members and pets on camera! But today, as we enter the second phase at work, keeping those boundaries and empathy will be critical.

It’s important to have conversations around the importance of life design. And make sure there’s no stigma in the workplace about going to medical appointments, taking care of dependents, taking mental health breaks, relocating, assuming new responsibilities, making our hours work for us, or otherwise pursuing activities that make us happy.

Prioritize well-being and understand mental health matters

Burnout can be contagious. And after the past year and a half of intense upheaval, it’s important to put the burnout prevention at the crux of the company culture. It’s vital to ensure we’re all conscientious of our own health and the health of our peers and teammates. Take mental health days when you feel you need it. Give mental health days when you know your team needs it. Deep social connections and purposeful gatherings can do more to the team’s overall well-being, for their appreciation for each other and the work they do together, than the happy hours ever could.

Build an intentional space to connect, even virtually

A lot of nuances that felt easier in person is lost online.  But remote work is all about email. So remote companies should set clear communication norms, make remote employees believe they are heard, and do regular check-ins. When someone says they want something ASAP with all caps, are they upset that they did not get it or just happen to keep it? If they do not respond to an email for 2 days on a task, are they ignoring me or disrespecting my wishes? Was there something in my slack message that they didn’t like, or are they simply hard to get a hold of for some reason?

Using remote tools like Slack or Zoom video to create work groups that are more dynamic than the old daily stand-ups can help. Whether it’s a highly active Slack board with non-work-related channels, or Zoom sessions where you only share stories, funny moments, you laugh, you vent… and you connect – creating that virtual space is critical to forming those connections. The more you can do to create a sense of shared experience, the closer your team will feel — wherever they are located. And that shared sense of purpose leads to better work, day in and day out.

The most important thing you can do to build trust in your company is make sure that everyone knows they have a voice. When people know that their input will matter and be taken into consideration, they are more likely to trust you. Why? Because the number one predictor of high-performing, trusted teams, according to Google, was psychological safety. And as the Professor at Harvard Business School Amy Edmonson puts it, “psychological safety is a climate in which people are comfortable being (and expressing) themselves.”

The most important thing you can do to build trust in your company is make sure that everyone knows they have a voice. When people know that their input will matter and be taken into consideration, they are more likely to trust you. Why? Because the number one predictor of high-performing, trusted teams, according to Google, was psychological safety. And as the Professor at Harvard Business School Amy Edmonson puts it, “psychological safety is a climate in which people are comfortable being (and expressing) themselves.”

About the Author

Kree Pandey

Kree Pandey

Kree Pandey is a Content Strategist and Digital Marketer powering growth goals for brands with purpose. Founder and CEO of ShiftCreatives Digital® and Co-Founder of No Names Digital, Kree's work and passion collide at the intersection of 'Brand' and 'Impact'. After working with numerous clients across sectors like Real Estate, SaaS, Education, Retail, Finance, Sustainability, HR and many more, Kree has found that her niche isn't any particular industry, but it's brands that are seriously driven by impact, understand the value of brand equity, and aren't dabbling.

At InnovatorsBox®, Kree's main focus is augmenting its digital presences, the SEO, and some content strategy.

Kree is also a mom to a 2 year old, and losing hair fast!

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