While the global shift to remote working has certainly had its fair share of positive outcomes, there is currently a growing problem of distrust among remote teams.
Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study of employees across 24 countries and a wide range of different industries.
Overall, the study produced some noteworthy findings on trust and teamwork:-
- 41% of managers and supervisors admitted they were sceptical about their employees’ abilities to stay motivated while working remotely
- Meanwhile, 34% of workers said their supervisors expressed a lack of confidence in their skills.
How eroded trust can impact your team
There are obvious consequences to a lack of trust within an organisation.
Positive relationships with co-workers are consistently ranked* as one of the most important factors in job satisfaction and happiness in the workplace.
*A 2016 study from Peldon Rose found 91% of employees valued friendships at work, while 80% said those friendships made them more productive.
Allowing a culture of distrust to cement itself within your team will impact levels of productivity, innovation and motivation, which will then be of detriment to your organisation’s bottom line.
How technology has been shown to impact trust
While some of these growing trust problems are no doubt due to behavioural factors, research has revealed surprising insight into how team trust dynamics are impacted by remote collaboration tools.
According to Heidi K. Gardner, who studies trust attitudes among knowledge workers, “If you’re late for a meeting while working from home, it’s because your broadband wasn’t working, but if anyone else misses a meeting, you attribute it to their character”.
The reality of the impact remote collaboration tools can have on trust is so palpable that law scholars and criminal justice activists have even questioned the fairness of remote court hearings and trials.
When communicating remotely, connectivity is key
A more specific point to note about how technology affects trust dynamics in remote teams, is the impact of poor network connectivity – whether on a phone call or a videoconference.
One 2013 study sought to determine whether there was a “particular length of silent gap between two speakers' turns, at which negative social attributions emerge”.
The results showed that millisecond delays in virtual verbal responses negatively affected our interpersonal perceptions, with a “notable drop-off in ratings at 600 [milliseconds] and a statistically significant difference in ratings between 700 and 800 [milliseconds]”.
Further to this, a study by USC and the Australian National University found audio quality influenced whether people believed what they heard and whether they trusted the source of information.
How can businesses overcome this?
In the months and years to come, it is highly likely that organisations of all kinds will adopt more hybrid working practices.
While there are many different talks of what the ‘hybrid working models’ of the future may look like, most businesses are set to make geographically-distributed teams a more permanent fixture.
Find out more about the future of hybrid working, and what you need in order to adapt
Therefore, if organisations wish to preserve strong interpersonal relationships within their teams and avoid feelings of mistrust bubbling up between remote and on-site employees, they need to invest in the right communications systems.
Systems that can guarantee exceptional network performance with secure, resilient and reliable connection.
Enter cloud-hosted telephony
Investing in a leading cloud-hosted telephony solution is just one of the ways you can equip your entire team with better quality, and more reliable network connection.
The best solutions will allow for access to your cloud-powered telephony service from all devices.
That means, regardless of whether your employees are using their desk phone at the office, or out and about on their mobile device, they still benefit from the same crisp, clear voice quality.
We also recommend opting for a cloud telephony service that is built on geo-redundant architecture, for vastly improved network performance, incredible business continuity and close to 100% uptime.
It is important to remember that the pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on the workforce.
It would therefore be fair to presume that some of this will subside once we settle into the next normal.
But there is clear evidence pointing to the erosion of trust dynamics and interpersonal relationships among remote teams. Awareness of this and being proactive in ensuring that it doesn’t happen is the best course of action.
As a result of this, there is much discussion around how teams and employees can adapt their practices to support more effective remote working. But there is one issue that the discussion seems to be overlooking: insufficient network performance and unreliable connectivity will fragment trust in even the strongest teams.
- Statistics show that interpersonal relationships and levels of trust between teams are waning.
- Most conversations around remote working overlook the impact that poor network connectivity and substandard remote collaborations tools can have on team dynamics.
- With hybrid working here to stay, organisations need to invest in communications systems that guarantee high performance and resilient connection.
- Cloud-hosted telephony can empower teams to provide their staff with consistent connection across all locations and devices, and solutions with geo-redundant architecture vastly improve network performance and guarantee resilience.