Trust. It’s something that seems to come hard but is essential to building relationships, especially in a remote work environment. In fact, it’s crucial not to underestimate the importance of trust in remote work. And, due in part to technological advances, society has changed how we measure trust and how we interact with each other. These changes have added a different dimension and dynamic to relationships while also opening up a world of opportunities. But at the basis of our human nature, we must trust others to build relationships. How do we do this in a virtual environment and with remote work? With two simple words—collaboration and reputation.

In a recent TED talk, Rachel Botsman explores the currency of the new economy—trust. And to build trust in a virtual environment where we interact more frequently with technology than humans, our reputation is crucial in establishing the connections we need to build trust. For remote work situations, trusting our coworkers, managers, and team members is essential to getting work done in an effective and collaborative manner.  

Here are some ideas that demonstrate the importance of trust in remote work:

  • We rely on each other without ever meeting face-to-face.
  • Teams must be able to work together to achieve mutual goals.
  • Managers can’t micromanage and see every task being completed.
  • Expectations must be met without frequent reminders.
  • Communication must be proactive from all levels.
  • Without trust, team dynamics suffer and communication breaks down.
  • Without trust, employees don’t feel empowered or invested in their work.
  • Without trust, loyalty to the company and the job suffers.

There are ways to build trust, as well as ways to assess the level of trust you can give someone in relation to remote work situations.

Here are a few ideas to build and assess trust:

  • Online reputation. Between a Google search and social media channels, it’s easy to get a sense of a person’s online reputation. Using these along with references can help paint a clearer picture.
  • Address complex issues. Plainly put, establish guidelines and expectations early. When they are not met, address them and correct the unwanted behavior.
  • Provide reviews and feedback often. Feedback is essential to building trust. When someone takes to heart what is being communicated and makes the necessary changes, small steps toward trust are being made.
  • Trustworthy behaviors. Examine a person’s behaviors to verify if their actions are in fact trustworthy. The more integrity a person exhibits in day-to-day happenings, their personality is likely to align.
  • Learn about people. Ask questions and get to know people in a remote work environment. When you learn about people and their lives, you start to make connections that help trust to grow.
  • Collaborate. When you have the opportunity to interact with and work closely with a person, you can gain a lot of information and knowledge about their personality, values, and ideas. Use collaboration as a way to build trust.

As remote work continues to grow and evolve, we need to assess the ways in which we will learn to trust in a virtual world. Through collaboration and connections, we’ll be able to build meaningful, sustainable, and trusting relationships. And in the work environment this is huge, because the more people feel trusted, the more responsible, empowered, and invested they become.