Building and Cultivating Trust in A Remote Team

Published: July 14, 2020 · Read time: 5 min

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Trust is precious and critical to team success, both in a physical and virtual environment. But how does trust actually function in an environment that is partially or entirely remote? And how do remote companies keep their team accountable for their work?

Switching to virtual communication can result in misunderstandings and misinterpretations which in turn can damage trust. However, those situations are avoidable with the right approach. If you can work out those hurdles, your remote team will thrive. So here are some tips on how to build trust in a remote team and what other remote companies do to achieve this.

1. Hire The Right People

It is the ultimate first step to build a company culture. Your candidates have to have a culture fit with your company’s culture and values. As not everyone will have the skills and traits to work remotely in an efficient manner. So, having the right candidates on board will advance the company culture building.

Zapier, an automation company that is fully remote defining a top-notch remote worker who has these traits, such as ability towards action, ability to prioritize, proficient writing, and trust-worthy. These are the skillsets you need to have to be successful in this type of environment. They also mention that being public and transparent about your culture and values goes a long way towards establishing trust with your new hires.

2. Be Transparent

Transparency needs to be the core value of every company. Especially when you work remotely. With everyone working from home, it can happen that context or important information is lost in video calls or chats. Transparency at remote work requires a good communication tool and taking extra care with crafting messages and announcements, which will result in increased productivity and trust.

Here are some simple tactics for maintaining transparency and how other remote companies do it:

3. Humility Goes A Long Way

Being humble is part of expressing vulnerability. It is traditionally viewed as a weakness in the workplace, but many have discovered that humility is a secret weapon in fixing accountability issues at work. This isn’t easy, most people find the thought of being seen flawed terrifying.

If you find your team struggling with accountability, avoiding hard discussions. It’s most likely because the leaders are unable to create a safe space for failure. Thus, teams become paralyzed and unproductive. Creating a company culture that appreciates being humble has to start with the founders who demonstrate it consistently, and your team will follow suit. We recommend watching The Power of Vulnerability - Brené Brown to understand how being vulnerable at work enables innovation, creativity, change, and help build trust within teams.

4. Get To Know Each Other

There is a saying that goes: “The more you know someone, the more you trust them.” In the workplace environment, social connections are powerful in creating trust. Trello is a company that understands this concept and encourages its hybrid teams to set up 15 minutes of social calls. They call it “Mr. Rogers”, which they claim to be the most successful social programs at their 65% remote team.

How it works is that two employees are randomly paired and assigned for a 15 mins video call to get to know each other. Since not all teams are distributed, they more often than not make sure to pair remote employees with ones who work in HQ from a different department. It has helped the teams to feel more connected despite being in multiple time zones and trust each other more when it comes to getting stuff done.

Studies, after studies, have proven that encouraging social connections enhances the workplace. The time people spend on this shouldn’t be seen as wasted. Instead, it will make people feel connected which is crucial in building a remote culture that works.

5. Focus on The Outcome

Successful remote companies have shifted their focus towards results rather than the hours that they put in. You need to trust your teammates that they will deliver the results and communicate if they can’t. This also means providing your team with the resources they need to make decisions and solve their problems on their own.

At Doist, they embrace employee autonomy. They don’t have dedicated hours and they don’t use time tracking for their employees. With this setup, employees are purely measured on output. Employees are held accountable for the work they do, not the hours they work.


The key to keeping your remote employees accountable is trust. Trust is key to every aspect of a successful business. The main ways you can cultivate more trust within your company is by hiring the right people, taking the time to get to know each other, focusing on output, and maintaining transparency & humility. Good luck and let us know if you have more tips.

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