How do you build trust when your employees are far away, out of the office for months at a time, or you've only ever met them virtually?Contemporary business is a diverse landscape of distance and connectivity, but it is essential to have clear communication between all parties so that trust is built from the beginning.
While it is common wisdom throughout the business world that trust is vital to ensure the security of any project, big or small, some evolutionary psychologists believe that humans are born distrustful, only truly ever believing members of their family to be on their side.
Others believe that altruistic trust can exist even in matters of personal gain. For example, a study in the Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization on the 'Information, irrationality, and the evolution of trust' claims that trust is central to social and economic interactions between humans.
Building trust across distances
Keith Ferrazzi, the CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a research institute focused on human behaviour change, put forward some guidelines to effectively build trust in a virtual business environment. Central to these recommendations is the notion is the geographically dispersed teams need clear communication channels.
"Establishing trust in a traditional, physical working environment is difficult enough, but it's even tougher in a virtual environment, when you have to work with people you've never met in person," said Ferrazzi.
Swift trust, the act of immediately establishing a rapport with another teammate, is developed by building up the confidence of all the team members. The interpersonal trust needed to communicate and work together effectively will follow after.
By making personal connections, workers will be willing to go the extra mile for one another, because they are more emotionally invested.
High trust communications are more equal, and encourage an equality-based power dynamic. This share-and-rotate power develops throughout virtual teams as a response to the dynamics of distance. According to Ferrazzi, vertical power structures have been found to be less effective in remote working situations.
Contemporary business is connected by the cloud
It's safe to say that trust through clear communication equals increased productivity for your business. Cloud-based phone systems offer businesses the ability to function effectively, and communicate from anywhere in the world, using systems such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
By making it easy to manage calls, instant messaging and conferencing from multiple devices, communication lines stay open and clear. Need help getting started? Download our FREE eBook: Unified Communications for a Mobile Workforce: The Key to Successful Management of a Geographically Diverse Organization.