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Trust and hybrid working: what is it, how do you develop it, and how you protect it

Posted on: 20th June 2022

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Trust and hybrid working: what is it, how do you develop it, and how you protect itTrust and hybrid working: what is it, how do you develop it, and how you protect it

The new significance of workplace trust – and how to nurture it

Two work-from-home heroes emerged from the pandemic: technology and trust. Where technologies like Zoom and Teams gave us the practical means to keep up productivity and keep in touch, trust gave us the emotional means to remain connected to colleagues and committed to our employees.

The shift to hybrid working happened under emergency conditions. The early weeks of the pandemic saw businesses rushing to enable remote working, keep the wheels turning and limit the damage of lockdown. Now our collective adrenalin levels have settled back down, we can see that, by and large, it worked. Many businesses survived thanks to a more flexible approach, while workers reaped the benefits of a new hybrid routine.

Trust oils the wheels of hybrid

So, as hybrid working becomes the standard, how can businesses protect the trust that’s grown between dispersed team members, and between employers and employees? And how can those businesses that struggled to create a hybrid environment based on trust begin to build one now?

Early on in the pandemic there was a dramatic increase in the use of remote time-tracking and electronic monitoring tools which can take webcam pictures of employees every five minutes. Unsurprisingly, this kind of distrust is a key factor in what’s being called The Great Resignation – an ongoing economic trend which sees employees leaving their jobs in unprecedented numbers. According to McKinsey some employers are failing to understand new workforce values: their research shows employees now rank ‘having trusting teammates’ alongside ‘adequate compensation’.

Trust benefits the bottom line

In his book The Speed of Trust Stephen Covey gives this lack of trust a new name: ‘snoopervising’. He also links it to lower productivity. In cultures where managers are hovering to check what reports are doing, cc-ing in half the organisation on emails to protect their own back, it takes much longer to get anything done.

The opposite is true for high-trust cultures, where you have the right level of control. Trusted staff clearly understand their goals and take responsibility for them; managers trust their teams to get things done and measure performance against big-picture goals, not micro-deliveries.

Why is trust hard to earn and easy to lose?

This is the kind of high-trust model that can make hybrid working a sustainable, successful way of life. But it’s no small task. In their Trust Barometer 2022, Edelman highlight a global societal collapse of trust, citing issues such as fake news, divisive media, climate change, economic inequality and more.

However, according to Edelman’s ‘most trusted’ scale, businesses (61%) now outperform both government (52%) and media (50%). If, as the research suggests, ‘distrust is now society’s default emotion’, businesses have an opportunity – responsibility even – to model trust and give employees something they can count on.

6 trust-builders for hybrid working

So what are the components of trust that managers and employees alike should aim to bring to their new hybrid working lives? We’ve gathered some practices that flourished during the pandemic that you and your teams may want to consider – and you won’t be alone in trying them. According to Accenture, 63% of companies in high growth have already adopted a ‘productivity anywhere’ workforce mode, showing the value to be unlocked from hybrid, trust-building processes.

1. Start small: Find low-risk opportunities for small groups of employees (you can include yourself) to work together on non-promotable projects, such as onboarding a new summer intern, organising the holiday party. Repeatedly demonstrating the ability to deliver on small promises builds trust over time.

2. Be predictable: Establish a regular communication routine and stick to it. Even when there’s no big news to announce, hold ‘status quo’ sessions where you touch base with your teams. Don’t wait for a drama to call a meeting; consistency, certainty and stability are the cornerstones of trust. Learn the art of hybrid meetings to get the most out of them.

3. Measure outcomes: Remote micro-managing is tempting, but it not only induces employee anxiety, it’s also an ineffective way to improve productivity. Measure outcomes as well as outputs – trusting people to deliver to bigger-picture goals, making work meaningful, and connecting with your teams.

4. Develop conversation skills: Because we’re having fewer of those water-cooler conversations, we’re losing micro-opportunities to establish interpersonal trust and rapport. Aim to create informal opportunities for conversations with remote workers and hone your skills around listening and empathy.

5. Use tools for transparency: With staff working flexibly and remotely, it’s important that everybody knows where and when the rest of the team is working. Use shared calendars or scheduling tools to foster peer-to-peer trust and allow workers to see everyone else’s schedule.

6. Deploy facetime wisely: With reduced frequency of face-to-face collaboration, there’s a new role for in-person contact. Schedule regular opportunities for collaboration sessions, workshops and meetings, or provide coworking spaces that provide the extra social touch that WFH does not offer.



Regus offers a variety of coworking options, so you can collaborate with your team in a space and location that suits you. Coworking options

Want to know how hybrid working can benefit your business? We’ve got the breakdown. Find out more

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