You can read a lot about the factors for remote work that actually succeeds. It is mostly about tools and technics, good remote management and the right setting at your working location. You can also read about that in my other blog posts, e.g. ‘How to prepare your company for remote workers‘ or ‘What a remote project manager needs to know‘.
But the most important point is trust!
Level of trust
I will explain the importance of trust with the help of the different levels of trust, which you can find at your corporate environment (Zero, medium or full trust). The trust is needed between employers and employees, contractors and customers, team members and project managers, so basically everyone, who is involved. It is important to note, that it is needed in both directions and everytime (not only in the good times).
Think about yourself. If you trust your boss, that he or she will treat you in a fair way and that your work is for a good purpose, you will do everything for him or her.
No trust at all
Without any trust on each side, you cannot work remotely. You cannot work in an office without trusting eachother either, but it stands out there not this fast.
I led many projects with well established trust between customers and my project teams. But there was a big one where the customer didn’t trusted us until the end of the project. This frustrated many team members and resulted in extra time and extra cost. The project has been fullfilled in this case, but this can cause project crashes with severe losses, particularly if it is a complete remote environment.
I think this is the common status in our corporate world. You can see it as a ‘more or less trust’, that your collegues and business partners are doing mostly a good job and are not trying to fool you. So the situation is not too bad, but most people have doubts about the work of others. This increases a lot if the workers are not colocated and includes the hords of middle managers, who still thinks they can only manage people if they see them permanently – which is however a flaw of their skills.
High portion of trust
This is the ideal situation for a successful business, project, team and remote work setting. If all participants are trusting each other deeply, you need less often and shorter discussions, you have less misunderstandings, less overhead in people and money and a much faster result – the normally needed short time-to-market.
What helps to create that:
- give working packages with full responsibility to team members instead of small tasks
- measure work results not worked hours
- inform everyone about everything they need to know (better too much than not enough)
- make decisions transparent
- create a culture of liability
- be fair and ethically correct
- make sure that remotely working people get to know each other, even face-to-face if possible
- organize off-work team activities, like outdoor events, cooking classes, attending concerts together
- empower all participants to self-reliant and self dependent team members
- a clear formulated business target including the general good is the best motivation
Traditional companies are often jealous of startups, because of their highly bonded, motivated teams, which are trusting each other very well (mostly). In this case it comes mainly from the companies purpose, every employee is identifying much with and rarely from morally great leaders.
While trust is needed in every work setting, it is very critical at remote work. So if you see a problem related to the remote work setting, please ask yourself if it is not rather a trust problem!
Please let us know, if trust has for you the same important meaning and write a comment. Good and bad experiences are also highly appreciated.