I was talking to a friend this morning about how he had to go back to work…at his office. Needless to say, I was a little surprised at this. After all, companies all over the world are still operating in a Covid-19 environment and advising their employees to work from home. Why was he being “asked” to come back to the office?
It turns out it’s because the company still doesn’t believe their people work when they’re at home. When I asked my friend if this was the case for him, he replied with an adamant “No!”. In fact, he told me he was more productive at home because he knew his company didn’t trust he was working, and he wanted to prove his worth. The irony here is he actually works less when he’s in the office. If his employers can see him sitting at his desk they trust he’s working, but that’s not always the case, as his YouTube consumption will attest.
Ah… trust issues.
Why is it that companies can’t trust their people if they can’t see them?
In my soon-to-be-available book, I tackle the subject of trust. Managers need to care about trust, because trust, or the lack of it, profoundly affects business. People want to be trusted, and they want to trust. When managers demonstrate trust and belief in their reports, team members typically extend their trust back, rise to the occasion, strive to reach their potential, and make contributions that greatly benefit the organization. Not only that, this same extension of trust leads to a healthy and happy workplace culture in which people want to work, grow, and thrive. Trust brings out the best in people.
Not surprisingly, a demonstrated lack of trust does the opposite — it leads to the type of workplace culture where people spend their time watching the clock, and watching YouTube. If being visible in the office is the main measure of productivity… well, there seems to be something amiss.
Right now a lot of businesses have had to put faith in their workers to be productive while working from home. The good news is their faith is justified. According to RescueTime, people are actually more productive when working from home, mainly because they’re spending more time doing the right work. RescueTime’s technology tracks how time is spent on digital devices and scores it on a scale from very distracting to very productive. According to their data remote workers had:
· An increase of 4% in average daily time spent on their core work · An 10% decrease in time spent on communication (this includes time spent in Zoom meetings)
Over the course of a year, this adds up big — 58 more hours spent on core work, and 256 fewer hours spent on communication.
The data shows that working remotely can lead to higher productivity and other benefits like greater employee satisfaction, and, of course, revenue (see above time savings and productivity increases). Clearly, there are some big benefits to trusting your employees to do good work, even if their manager can’t see them.
Establishing, growing, extending, and restoring trust is a key leadership competency.
· Managers should trust their team members. Trust is one of the most powerful forms of motivation. People want to be trusted — they thrive on trust. If managers want their reports to give their best, they should trust they’ll do their best.
· Managers should be trustworthy. Their people rely on them to lead, and managers have to deliver the goods. If they can’t trust their manager, employees will leave.
· Managers should clearly and concisely communicate what the direction of the company is. From there, they should communicate the vision for the department, team, and project. If employees understand the “why” and the “how” of what they’re working on, and for, they can better produce what is needed.
· Managers should explain the “how”. Employees are far more engaged when they understand what they are working on. Clarity of instruction, of how to execute, and of why this needs to be done will contribute greatly to engagement.
Trust, or lack of it, can make or break an organization’s culture. If it’s important enough to break an organization, it can certainly cause irreparable damage to a team. Trusting in people brings out the best in them, as they want to live up to that trust. Extending trust to others brings happiness to relationships, results to work, and confidence to lives.
Isn’t that the type of environment everyone wants to work in — even if it’s remote?
Photo by Ruca Souza from Pexels