Building Trusting Relationships Allows More Work From Home
Here are some handy “R” words to aid the transition to telecommuting
The COVID-19 quarantines forged a new way for millions of people to work. Working remotely, has already been an option for some people for some time, but at this scale it is unprecedented.
There are still some objections to telecommuting, for both school and career, but in the long run, this is a way for people to build business, even when inevitable emergencies arise.
As we are warned, nearly daily now, about pandemic numbers, climate crisis related events, and the need for restoring the natural world, telecommuting seems inevitable too.
To enable more people to work remotely, requires trust.
A few vital “R” words come into play, and will help you remember the importance of trust.
Relationships, how we relate to everyone else, is R number one.
Trust in work relationships, is crucial. Once the bugs and everyday annoyances are worked out of your relationship routines, you can cement trust in these relationships. This takes time. Allow time, for each person to communicate freely.
The first step is to keep communication flowing. Each and every day, even if it’s just a momentary check in, or update, reach toward partners. Communication flow, being able to relate to one another, shows trust, encourages more trust, and solidifies relationships. In all the ways that you can, relate on a personal level with teams, customers, audience, about goals.
The relationship trust you build creates another R, Reliability.
Reliability builds trust because you show up. You show up for every meeting. You make promises, and you keep them. This core basis for trust building will work even if all the meetings are online. It will work, and even allow more productivity. You won’t have the excuse of car trouble, traffic, or any other commuter associated delay. Working from home can therefore be more reliable, than in person, but you must show up. Reliably.
Respect and Reciprocity
To stay on top of the game, each person needs to be regarded with respect. Respect doesn’t happen automatically, but through reciprocity. In evolutionary psychology there are two types of reciprocity, Direct reciprocity, (DR) and Indirect reciprocity, (IR). If you are trying to create an atmosphere of trust, you will need both types. Direct reciprocity is showing that you are willing to help another. Indirect, simply means you must offer support to those who help others. Both forms go a long way in any teamwork situation, because we evolved to create reputations of trustworthiness by being there for others. Using reciprocity regularly, even offering help daily, will build trust if it is used carefully, and isn’t patronizing.
Communication, back to R number one, relating to others, will allow you to be clear that you encourage genuine, not symbolic, reciprocity. Also remember that you too, must sometimes ask for help. If others perceive that you only seem to want to ‘manage them,’ and take no help, your micromanagement reputation erodes the trust you need. Offer help. Ask for help. Reciprocate. This is the way to create real trust.
Risk and Reflection
It can feel awkward to try to relate to people solely online. This is because we evolved as social animals to be face to face. But without “water cooler” talk, schmoozing at lunch, and participating in “hallway” moments, how can relationship trust be created? This requires some risk, and reflection. We need to be able to take risks, feel vulnerable, and make light of it. This also allows us to find creativity, which pays other dividends as well.
An example of taking risk would be wearing a bathrobe for a Skype or Zoom meeting when you find all others are all dressed up in business attire. This is a chance for you to be reflective, and even somewhat self-deprecating. You could say something like: “You all look so professional. I better get more laundry done. You are professionals, we don’t need slobs on this job.”
Allow others the same leeway. You are all learning new ways to “show up.” Actually, being present is more important than who wears what. When you do take a risk, identify it. When you appreciate that someone else is being vulnerable, identify it, and compliment them. It is only by being vulnerable, at least sometimes, with others, that we find our mutual humanity. It may be a little more challenging to find relatable risks, but it is worth it.
All of the “R” words we have gone over add up to Responsibility. Being responsible is the ultimate team builder, and trust maker. When you have doubts, that’s okay. Doubt allows us to be more human, admit vulnerability and become responsible as a team together.
In your mind, capitalize the R words:
Then, you can add a final “R” word: Reward.
The rewards of all new innovations, technology that allows pandemic tracing, testing, continual contact for commerce, data collection and all the opportunities it will offer the world in the forms of shorter work weeks, flexible shifts, less traffic, walk-able, less crowded cities, and even, unforeseen new ways to relate to one another, are mind-boggling.
The pandemic has proved to many that we can change behavior, and expectations.
As human beings evolve to find the tools to relate to one another, digitally, and stay human, the world will face many challenges, but also many new ways to stay connected, cooperative, and collaborative.