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5 Ways Leaders Build Trust to Help Remote Teams Win

Clay Walsh

Last Updated: 13 February 2023

In this article:

Trust is an essential factor in ensuring your team members respect you and buy into the vision of the company. As a manager you are their first line of contact with the organization and are largely responsible for providing the face of upper management, especially in larger firms.

If trust erodes, faith in the company goes along with it. The best team leaders are experimenting with new, exciting ways to stay engaged during work from home. Whether it's formalized tools like Amber or laid back hangouts on Netflix Party, a manager who interacts with their team and keeps them engaged increases productivity. My captain said it best, "Managers building trust with their employees is how teams win during remote work." Let’s look at 5 techniques you can employee to build trust with your team members

1. Ensure goals and outcomes are clear for each week

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By making sure your team is on the same page to begin with you ensure alignment of goals and focus that will allow all of your employees to perform at their best. Especially in a time of remote work making sure everyone knows their responsibilities allows them to develop routines and workflows that will help them hit their goals.

There’s enough uncertainty right now as is, so build an environment in which your team knows exactly what they need to do to succeed. They’ll trust a manager who can help give them direction in a complicated and confusing time, not one who buys software to take screenshots of their computer screens.

2. Check-in daily to track progress and clear roadblocks


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Rather than monitoring your team’s progress with computers, monitor them with constant, face to face check-in sessions. By leveraging tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts you can both keep tabs on your team’s progress as well as boost morale by interacting with your team in order to help make everyone feel less isolated. You should try to do your best to maintain the same routines as you had in the office, whether it’s stand-ups every morning, lunch break conversations, or end of day checkouts.

A good mix of formal and informal conversations will help your team stay engaged, proactive, and motivated. Further, monitoring their progress and giving feedback will help maintain the trust you’ve built before remote work.

3. Eliminate needless followups

There's a fine line between checking-in and needlessly following up. Setting clear times to discuss what is on everyone's plates micromanaging doesn't work. The best course of action here would be to set up robust OKR tracking sheets or automating as many of these small processes as possible.

While the bigger goals should still be discussed frequently, over-saturating conversations with minute detracts from everyone's ability to focus. Leaning on the same streamlined tracking tools that helped in the office will help even more when you're working from home. Leverage those routines!

4. Be there outside of work too

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Now more than ever isolation is becoming a real factor for a lot of people. As a manager, and as a friend, you can build trust with your team members by being there for them when they need to chat. Whether it’s during work hours or afterwards in a more informal setting just being around and reachable goes a long way.

After work one night last week I, my captain, a coworker, an HRBP, and the CEO of the company all stumbled into a room on Houseparty, a new video conferencing app, where we played Pictionary and swapped stories for a bit. Let's just say I wasn't the most talented artist but I cleaned up in our trivia round. Humanizing our coworkers and managers in a non-workplace context goes a long way towards building trust in the organization and what we all stand for. Make an effort to reach out to your team members frequently, and try to always be available when they need you.

5. Be the bridge between the organisation and your team

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With all the uncertainty and disruption that the world is facing right now being empathetic and helping to build a psychological safety net for your employees should in many ways be your number one priority. It is important that we’re mindful of everything that the people around us are facing. Rather than chase an employee down over failure to produce at a certain level looking at some of the causes might be able to help elucidate the situation. If the employee has kids, it’s important to recognize the additional stress they’re under while their children are out of school. Someone they know could be sick.

They could have older relatives or friends they’re concerned about. Be sensitive to the issues people could be facing, and ask the questions that matter. Further, you could advocate the importance of providing mental health care for employees to the HRBPs of your company. At inFeedo we’re fortunate enough that leadership recognizes the importance of mental health and provides private counselling free of cost, including remote sessions during the pandemic.

Beyond this, keep your team up to date on larger business function during the remote work period. Working from home naturally encourages us to move into a siloed work pattern, as we no longer have small conversations with colleagues outside our verticals. As such, we can lose track of what the business is doing. Our CEO, Tanmaya Jain, gave one of the best all-hands we've ever had last week over Zoom. Instead of not understanding what every function of the team was doing I immediately felt up to date on what next steps we were taking, how COVID-19 was impacting business, and what every individual team was doing. I felt so connected to the organization, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.

What not to do: Buy Screentracking Software!

The rise in work from home has seen a spike in purchases of productivity tracking software like ActivTrak and VeriClock that allow employers to track employee performance even when they’re not in the office. Some of these firms have seen their inbound traffic spike as much as 300% over the last few weeks. Approximately half of all large employers in the U.S use monitoring techniques in order to ensure that their workers are performing. 

However this is in many regards the wrong way to ensure your employees are happy and functional during their time working from home. With the additional stress of COVID-19 and all of its impacts on society installing a software on your employees computer that essentially implies you don’t trust them to manage their time is detrimental to morale, even if numbers show that it’s keeping them “on target.”

In this challenging time trust between employees and managers is all the more important when it comes to ensuring productivity. Constant communication, objective alignment, availability, and support are all aspects of leadership, and executing now can help you reap tangible rewards.

We’re also excited to be rolling out additional features to Amber that will help you track your employees’ engagement levels during an extended work from home period and provide actionable insights as to how you can make a difference. Trust is key, and Amber might be able to help you build it.

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