A successful remote-working relationship is built on the grounds of virtual trust.
I was reading a novel recently wherein the main character, a new employee at a Google-like company, remembers that her mother had told her “don’t take lunch your first week.” This was meant to help the character impress her higher-ups, of course. I guess the advice has some old-school merit, but it’s a pretty crazy way to show your stuff, if you ask me!
Don’t get me wrong: I understand the need to stand out and work your tail off, particularly when you’re just getting started and trying to build a great reputation. I also understand, just as you do, that this can be harder to accomplish as a remote worker. But you don’t have to go hungry to make it happen!
Establishing Virtual Trust With Your Remote Employer
Indeed, your single most important goal as a professional working remotely is earning the trust of your boss. It will make or break you. With every deliverable, achievement, and contribution, your value increases. With every missed deadline, project failure, and absence from an important conference call, your expendability does.
Still, establishing virtual trust with your remote employer is a lot simpler – and more satisfying – than depriving yourself of nutrition, for instance. Your life doesn’t have to become more difficult for you to become a more successful telecommuter. In fact, I can make it as easy as three keys.
Get a Good Start
Negotiate routine check-ins with your employer upfront, and set the expectations early on. Publish your availability within the company and communicate when you’ll be offline. Ask tons of relevant questions upfront, then listen thoughtfully to the answers. Be proactive, participatory, and enthusiastic. Make a name for yourself with positivity, make your presence felt, and make sure people know who you are right out of the gate!
Set’em Up & Knock’em Down
Do what you say you’re going to do. Meet your deadlines and be dependable, just as you would if you were working at the office. Be accountable, responsive, and reliable. You know what will impress your manager, colleagues, network, and customers more than working through lunch? Working with efficiency and follow-through. Hit your marks, and the higher-ups will notice.
Network. Be a professional meeting participant and facilitator. Value your co-workers’ time. Treat people better than they treat you – but don’t be a doormat. Err on the side of over-communicating until you have a mutually understood dynamic with a supervisor or colleague. That said, adjust to others’ preferred styles of communication. Be quick to apologize and accept responsibility for mistakes or misunderstandings, and then move on quickly. Foster professional, creative, and social exchanges with on-campus employees and fellow remote workers.
Giving Credit and Showing Gratitude
It often seems easier to show gratitude in the workplace, with polite niceties such as picking up a coffee for a coworker or bringing in baked goods, but the similar can be done as a remote worker. Be sure to call out coworkers after a great meeting, send thank yous, or just remember your team’s special dates will go a long way. Another strategy is to send praise to peers – and also to their boss – throughout the year and also at evaluation time.
Avoid Radio Silence
Make yourself known. Implant yourself in your teams’ heads! Stay on everyone’s radar by checking in via email every few days or through an instant messaging system. Share updates on your project, a cheery note or quote, or praise other’s work.
Building Virtual Trust With Your Remote Employer: The Bottom Line
The mom of the character in the novel I mentioned? Remote Nation© is a lot like her in that we want you to succeed. We’re a lot unlike her in that we don’t recommend skipping lunch to do so. We love lunch.
Instead, in your capacity as a telecommuter, you can earn the virtual trust of your company by keeping three keys in mind: making sure colleagues know you, making sure you do what you say you will, and making sure you have professional relationships in place.
Have you ever dealt with a virtual trust gap, either as a remote employee or an employer? What steps did you take to building trust?
Photo by Joseph Gruenthal