Nurturing trust in remote work

Fostering trust between managers and workers is paramount for achieving organisational goals and maintaining employee wellbeing.
A woman types on a laptop in a peaceful home office with greenery around.

By Chally Kacelnik

I’ve personally been largely working remotely for a long time. From my perspective both as a remote worker and as the substance of my work is management consulting, it’s been interesting to see the landscape shift as working from home has suddenly become a mainstay. There’s one critical element that can make or break the success of distributed teams: trust. Fostering trust between managers and workers is paramount for achieving organisational goals and maintaining worker wellbeing.

Trust forms the foundation of any productive working relationship, and its significance is magnified in remote work setups. For managers, trusting their team members means relinquishing any micromanagement tendencies and instead focusing on outcomes. It entails believing in the capabilities and commitment of remote workers to fulfill their responsibilities without constant supervision. To my mind, a manager who is focused on surveilling is either not focusing on their correct level of work or needs to look at underlying performance issues. Conversely, for employees, trust entails demonstrating reliability, transparency, and accountability in their work, even when physically distanced from their leaders. This is how teams should be operating regardless of location.

One key aspect of building trust in remote work environments is effective communication. Managers must prioritise clear and frequent communication to ensure alignment on expectations, goals, and progress. Regular check-ins, virtual team meetings, and project updates can help bridge the gap created by physical separation and cultivate a sense of shared purpose among team members. Transparent communication about challenges, successes, and changes in priorities fosters a culture of openness and collaboration, enhancing trust within the team.

Another crucial component of trust-building in remote work is empowering workers through autonomy and flexibility. Where possible and appropriate, granting workers the freedom to manage their schedules and work environment not only promotes a healthier work-life balance, but also demonstrates confidence in their ability to deliver results autonomously. By offering flexibility and acknowledging the unique needs and circumstances of remote workers, managers can strengthen trust and foster a sense of mutual respect within the team.

Distrust and resentment will spill over if there’s a hardline shift back to in office work – and, with other organisations still offering remote working, it’s going to be a dealbreaker for a lot of workers. It’s important to make deliberate and transparent choices around this. Is there are hardline shift back just for control’s sake? Are there times when it’s useful and important to have people physically present? What are you losing if you make zero demands or hardline demands when it comes to in person working?

Embracing trust as a guiding principle in remote work is not just a strategy for adapting to the changing landscape of work; it is an investment in the long-term success and resilience of the organisation. The shift to a focus on outputs rather than presence is a good one, regardless of how you arrange and conduct work.

At LKS Quaero, we support organisations with effective ways of working. For more information, visit us at or follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.