This is a guest post, authored by Jock Purtle.

Many workers would love to swap traditional offices and cubicles in favor of digital work arrangements.  With big perks of remote work for both employer and employee, it’s surprising more organizations haven’t got on board with the remote revolution.

However, the concept of remote work can be daunting for some people. The idea of working with people you never have and likely never will meet face to face is a bit unnerving.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to overcome this. Start by hiring in the most professional way possible, and after a remote worker joins your team, work to build up trust and to develop a positive open relationship that works for both parties.

Here are some tips to help you build trust with your company’s remote workers.

Get to Know People

It’s a lot harder to trust people we don’t know. When there is a lot of uncertainty in the relationship, it’s harder to believe the other person. For example, a simple request for additional edits could be perceived by a mistrusting remote worker as an attempt to get something for free. Yet when there is a sound relationship in place, this kind of misunderstanding is less likely.

To get to this point, work to get to know your remote workers as well as you can, even if the digital environment in which you communicate with your remote workers makes this hard to do. Consider setting up a regular meeting with your remote coworkers. It’s easy to get into the routine of only communicating with remote employees when there’s work to be assigned or turned in, but this robs the relationship of a human touch.

Regular meetings give you the chance to not only get status updates on the work, but they also are an opportunity for both you and your colleague to get to know each other. Ask about things that don’t have to do with work to get things going so that the relationship seems more real and more personal.

Another good thing to do is to set up ways for remote employees to communicate about things besides work. For example, if you use Slack, consider setting up channels where people can post photos or make comments about things occurring in their personal lives so that you can begin to build a relationship that goes beyond just work.

Be Hands Off

This one may sound a bit strange, but a good way to build trust with people is to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you take the first step and demonstrate trust in them, you can expect them to reciprocate. And with remote workers, this usually means taking a step back and managing in a hands off way.

Asking for remote workers to remain in constant contact, or pestering them for unnecessary status updates, will give them the impression that you don’t trust them, and this casts a shadow over the relationship, making it more difficult for either party to trust the other.

Obviously if the work isn’t good enough, then you need to act. But instead of assuming it won’t be and infringing on people’s ability to work autonomously, consider just letting them do their thing. This gets the relationship off on the right foot, and will make it much easier to build trust.

Do Things By the Book

To build trust, it’s important to be as professional as possible. In a remote setting, there are lots of opportunities for both employer and employee to cut corners. Employees could ask to be paid through less-than-traditional ways, or employers could ask employees to fudge some paperwork so that the company’s tax burden isn’t as big.

Not only are practices such as these illegal, but they are also going to make it hard for you to build trust with your remote employees. Both sides will be thinking: if they’re willing to go this far, what else will they do?

The best way to avoid this is to simply make sure you’re doing everything correctly. But when working with remote employees, this can be tough, especially when people are reporting from different countries with different laws. Consider working with an HR advisor or agency to help you manage all of these aspects of hiring and to present yourself to your remote workers in the most professional manner possible.

Pay On Time

Last but not least, build trust with remote workers by paying them on-time and in-full. While the majority of remote work gets done smoothly and without a problem, there’s always going to be some uncertainty when dealing with people over the internet. Get rid of this uncertainty by paying invoices or wages when they’re due.

Everyone you work with will likely have their own expectations when it comes to pay schedules, but it’s not necessary for you to adapt to each one. If you have your own timetable, then simply make this clear to people before they start a remote work relationship with you. A good way to make sure everyone is on the same page is to get new employees to sign a contract in the beginning that outlines all the relevant terms and conditions of the position.

Take Full Advantage of Remote Work

Remote work arrangements present a great opportunity for both employer and employee. They save everyone time and money, and they make it much easier for people to build flexible, balanced lives. But for these collaborations to work, it’s important to build trust, something that’s not always easy in a digital environment. Follow these tips and let remote work make your business better.


Jock Purtle Profile Pic

Jock Purtle is a successful entrepreneur who has built and sold several businesses in his career. All of these businesses operated in a digital environment and employed remote workers in various roles. Jock is a big advocate of remote work and frequently writes about his experiences to help others take advantage of this exciting form of work.

Interested in learning more? Connect with Jock on Twitter or LinkedIn.