One of the biggest reasons managers give for resisting the implementation of telework policies is that they do not believe that their employees will “really” work when they are not in the office. Those of us who have embraced a more flexible work design may consider this an “attitude adjustment” problem – on the part of the managers. But we really should take a closer look. An important aspect of a successful work environment is Trust. For telework to be successfully implemented, managers must be able to trust that employees will continue to perform effectively outside the office. And employees must be able to trust that their managers will treat them fairly, be proactive in providing guidance on performance expectations, and communicate frequently to maintain the work relationships that build professional and personal satisfaction. A few steps can help us to address the Trust issue:
- Acknowledge that it exists – We can’t resolve the issue unless we admit that it’s there. We know that organizations with a high level of internal trust are more effective. So Telework – or no Telework – if this is an issue, it’s time to get it out in the open.
- Address it – Trust can be built over time. It requires a commitment on the part of leadership to model this behavior and recognize and reward it in their employees. Trust behavior is mutually reinforcing. When people feel they are being trusted, they will trust others in return.
- Trust but verify – Trust does not imply a lack of oversight. An organization that clearly states its expectations for behavior and performance and that holds its managers and staff accountable in a visible way will be far more successful in building trust that one that does not.
Ernest Hemingway: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”