It’s time to stop talking about trust

There’s no doubt about it. The pandemic has led to businesses re-evaluating the way they work and that means the majority of organisations are likely to adopt hybrid working. What’s more, people are increasingly likely to look for work that offers hybrid flexibility – a mixture of office and remote working.

In fact, in a survey by the Adecco Group UK and Ireland, 77% of UK workers thought hybrid working would be the way forward post-COVID-19. 74% felt that employee contracts should focus more on meeting the needs of the role and less on the number of hours worked. That’s a statement that might be scary for managers and leaders who are used to traditional ways of working, but it’s a trend that is likely to gain traction and change the way we work.

Focusing on the right conversations

It’s time to get ahead of the game and look again at the way we communicate throughout an entire organisation. And we need to stop talking about ‘trust’ and start acting with confidence.

When we (at People Business) talk to both leaders and employees, we find that trust is seen or ‘felt’ as a very black and white concept. For example, we sometimes hear things in absolute terms such as ‘I will never trust him’ or ‘you could trust her with your life’. But, there tends to be much more ebb and flow, with a combination of credibility, competence, integrity and attitude making up the whole in reality.

That’s why a black and white view can be unhelpful in the context of the workplace. There have been hundreds of articles in the past 12 months about how important it is for managers to trust the people who are working from home, and we see three key problems with this approach:

  1. Working from home has been enforced on organisations by government. It hasn’t been a choice. It’s put everyone in a potentially difficult situation, and trust is not a useful measure to use in these circumstances.
  2. Trust is person- and context-specific, so using it as a catch-all term can create more problems than it solves.
  3. It avoids the real issue, which is that remote working is likely to continue for many. So, we should be focusing on the actions, tools and conversations that support a change in working habits.

Rebuilding to achieve more

In order to deliver your organisation’s goals, you need everyone to pull in the same direction. This was previously relatively easy for leaders – everyone was in the office at the same time; people were often measured on how visible they were and there were traditional expectations about hours, holidays, meetings and more.

It is understandable that leaders are now feeling less in control and that is why it is more important to start rebuilding now – taking the time to get some fresh thinking about how your business can be productive and achieve its goals in a hybrid world.

Start by making sure that everyone has confidence. Leaders need to be confident that their teams can deliver – regardless of where they are working. You have targets to achieve, your own goals to deliver and expectations to meet.

And employees need confidence in the structure, support and leadership of the business. They need to know that they will have the tools and processes that support the work they need to do and that managers have confidence in their abilities. And they need to understand their place in ensuring that the business succeeds.

Building confidence for hybrid working

Here are some tools and actions you can take now to build confidence into your organisation as you plan for a hybrid future:

  • Be flexible – what works for one team in your business may not work for another. Give leaders the flexibility to manage their teams in the way that makes them most productive, tailoring their approach to the needs of their team members and how they can best achieve their goals.
  • Make a clear case for office working – identify what work is best carried out at the office and be clear about why. Make sure that people understand that certain tasks need to be done in the office environment in order to achieve particular outcomes.
  • Be clear – if you haven’t already put together a policy for remote working, you should. Get some advice on the best way to do this so that there are clear boundaries for both office and remote working, giving employees confidence about how they can organise their working lives.
  • Communicate – talk to team members individually to find out what their working preferences are. Make sure that they can work safely and comfortably from home and that they have the right tools for their specific role. You may not be able to accommodate all their needs, so make this clear too.
  • Design new ways of working – if some of your team members are in the office and others are remote, you will need to look at ways of working that maintain collaboration, allow informed decisions to be made and promote productivity. You may have to do some of this on a trial-and-error basis, because this way of working is largely untested, so build reviews and feedback into your working so that you can make changes when you need to.
  • Include everyone – confidence comes from being included in conversations and being aware of changes to the way projects or day-to-day tasks are managed.

Let’s make sure we are talking about the positive actions that will build confidence into your organisation. This allows you to take practical steps to get ready for the future and puts everyone in your business in a position where they can succeed.

To find out more about how we can help you instil confidence in your leaders and your teams, contact us today on 01932 874944.