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How to Build & Maintain Employee Trust Working Remotely

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Working remotely was definitely a bit of an adjustment for my team. We are lucky to have a fabulous team at Cpl Cork with a close-knit group of highly engaged and hardworking recruiters. Working life was pretty good pre-covid.

Regular one to ones over coffees at the Market next door, Deliveroo had a path worn to our front door and we had constant celebrations and sports and social events. There was always a bit of a laugh in the office which created a really uplifting and supportive atmosphere.

When we were all suddenly asked to work from home with immediate effect it was a shock, but in true Cpl style, we were quick to act and by the following day we were all working from home without too much disruption.

Of course, there were some disruptions and like any team, individual team members had different difficulties. Covid has also been disruptive to our business but we are agile, so we have found ways to drive on and not only keep employee trust and morale but build on it too.

Here are some of our key lessons gained since March on how to maintain employee trust while working remotely.

Be transparent

Across the wider Cpl business our leadership team implemented regular CEO updates. This set the tone in terms of transparency and expectations.

My team and I introduced morning and evening meetings to help comms from a business point of view but also to give people an outlet. This all creates a culture of trust and keeps everyone in the loop so that no one feels left out or forgotten.

We talk about anything from what we did at the weekend to our day plan, achievements to helping one another problem solve, shout outs when good work is done or simple thank you’s which are very much appreciated amongst the team.

Set communication expectations

Working from home blurred the lines for a lot of us. Work was work, home was home and now everything was muddled, including how we communicated.

Before we mostly chatted face to face or via phone. Once Covid hit we had messages flying at us from Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp, text, email, all sorts of social media platforms as well as calls.

It was overwhelming and I admit I found myself at times missing the odd message and occasionally not being able to track one down. To streamline how we communicate we looked at how we work, discussed some changes that could help us as a team and set expectations.

For example, recording our work in one place so our reporting was accurate, basic etiquette like turning on your camera when you’re at a meeting, emailing important items and using chat functions for more informal communication, being empathetic and having respect for other people’s situations - which may not be the same as your own.

Work life balance

Over 40% of people are working longer hourssince the move to working from home. Respect people’s time and plan meetings well, don’t cancel last minute and value people’s time and efforts.

If you see people online after-hours check in with them. Make it known that you don’t expect them to work late and encourage time off. Even if we can’t go away it’s still important to rest and recharge. This will show you care and empathise with your team’s workload and situation.

Be authentic and maintain a sense of fun

Feeling like part of a team motivates people and makes them feel like their work is worthwhile and valued. During the first lockdown and now as we continue working remotely, feeling like you are part of a team is more important than ever.

On our own team, some people have had big support groups outside of work and others weren’t that fortunate, so the social aspect of work has been a big void. Across the Group, Cpl set up virtual coffees to keep people engaged and lots of wellness initiatives that were an enormous success and are still going.

If you feel like morale is dipping, gauge the mood and try to add more informal catch-ups or send a small token of appreciation when good work is done.

Recognise the positives and opportunities

Some people have found working from home really suits them. One of the main positives we have found is that we are no longer limited by our location. Cpl has 45 offices across Ireland, the UK, Europe and America.  

Now we can all communicate on an even keel. We can work on projects anywhere and it doesn’t matter that we’re sitting at home. Another big positive is the lack of any commuting and having more time to spend around family. Many on our team have found they have loads of energy and are more productive as a result.

We have more time for our external interests, one of our team is a cello player. Now she can take lessons online at lunch and doesn’t have to stay in the city after work. Another person has a gym set up at home and I personally find I have so much more time with my little boy who is only two.

If the weather is nice, I occasionally bring him to the beach around the corner on my lunch. I can get the washing on the line before work or stick something in the slow cooker. It’s a huge benefit that I never had before. Sure, we would all love a hybrid model and we’ll get there in the end but if anything, this has given us a chance to pause and collect our thoughts.

As a team and as a business this has propelled us to another level of creativity and collaboration and it has made us stronger. We now know this isn’t a short-term change. The world of work has changed and is changing. To keep teams engaged focus on the positives, keep communication open and transparent and notice the signs when people need extra help.

If you need more advice my colleague Karyn recently wrote a great piece on remote feedback and you can also download our guide to remote managing and hiring.