Is It Possible To Build Trust In Remote Or Hybrid Work Settings?

Popular author Simon Sinek said in a video in the past year that trust is built in physical workplaces outside of meetings, and that building trust in a virtual environment is forced.

I recognize this author has a major following on topics of leadership and inspiration, and I appreciate that he makes an effort to use his reach to help leaders think differently about leadership.

Yet the ideas in this video struck me as off. It seems to be getting at the wrong issue.

After all, most of us have had an experience of being physically employed in a workplace where we did not feel psychologically safe nor have trusting relationships, right? Most of us has had a challenging boss or colleague, right? All of which happened in physical workplaces.

Is it possible that it’s not about the mechanism (in person vs Teams texting/video calls), and much more about the substance?

I suspect that if we pause to think about it, it’s really about the substance.

Trust is far more about consistency and character than it is about unintentional conversations in a physical environment.

Here are some questions to ponder as you think about how to create and assess the level of trust that you are creating in your sphere of influence:

  • Do people know that you’ll have their back?
  • Do they know that you mean what you say and you come through on your commitments?
  • Do they know that you genuinely give a care about their wellbeing?
  • Do they know that you are authentic in your recognition that every person is in fact a person before they’re an employee, colleague, etc?

There’s nothing forced about any of that.

And physical presenteeism is irrelevant to demonstrating these.

This is just character and consistency. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being trustworthy.

In other words, I don’t subscribe to the idea that remote-only engagement or relationships are forced.

Sure, it’s a choice, but in my experience, force and choice are polar opposites.

You can read more about delivering high-performing, anti-oppressive leadership here.

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