Building trust in the remote workplace


Trust. Credibility. Respect. Transparency. Communication. 

Building strong relationships with your coworkers, managers and senior leaders will be critical to your success during your tenure with an organization. And, if you’re working remotely, it’s a little bit harder to build those relationships. 

Here are five tips from eight professionals who work in a variety of industries including health care, law, nonprofit, education and business on how you can be intentional in your actions to build relationships and develop trust with your new colleagues. 

1. Join the social events. 

You might not love Zoom happy hours, but it’s important to make an appearance and engage with your new colleagues — even if you only stick around for 20 minutes.  

Even as an introvert, I recognize the importance of being intentional with making connections,” said Jon Humiston, an instructional designer at ansrsource. 

Their company has a Yammer group for socializing and monthly virtual social hour. 

“Making personal connections is challenging when folx aren’t popping in and out of offices or bumping into each other in the hallway,” they said. “It’s important to take the time to participate, so my colleagues and I can get to know each other.”

Octavia Carson, Esq., judicial law clerk at the U.S. Department of Justice, said virtual events — including game nights, happy hours and Christmas parties — and social distanced outings helped facilitate connections among her team. 

“I believe you build relationships by taking time to get to know your colleagues outside of work,” she said.

2. Spark small talk. 

Share personal updates every so often to help people get to know you. 

They don’t need a rundown of everything you did over the weekend, but a small tidbit can humanize you and possibly even allow someone to connect with you one-on-one about a shared hobby or interest,” said Matt DeVries, marketing director at the Midland Business Alliance. “It helps create that sense of camaraderie in the workplace without sharing a workspace.”

Tanjae Chairse, media coordinator at Gage Cannabis, recommends asking your colleagues questions beyond the 9-to-5. 

“For instance, my counterpart lives in Canada. I ask her about Canadian culture all the time,” they said. “Another connection I made with a coworker was telling my team about my pronouns. Through that, a colleague reached out to me and we connected over being queer. Small tidbits like that can lead to camaraderie.”

When communicating through email or chat, be conscious of how your words may be perceived. 

“Be careful with your tone in your communications, especially if the team has not had a chance to get to know you yet” Humiston said. “Sarcasm can be funny, but it doesn’t always translate well in written communication.”

3. Be open.

One of the challenges of working remotely is that all interactions have to be intentional. 

“Solid relationships will be established through honesty and trust, but interaction will be limited,” said Myla Edmond, associate vice president for communications and marketing at California State University-Dominguez Hills. “This will require possibly being more open sooner than you may have been when you were engaging with people daily and in-person.”

Liz Rouech, communications specialist at Bastian Solutions, encourages new remote employees to ask questions. While you may feel awkward sometimes, the perfect time to ask questions is in your first few weeks and the team is expecting them. 

A new person with 100 questions makes a much larger impression than one who says nothing,” she said. 

Liz recommends doing introductions in new meetings and letting people know you’re available to chat all day, essentially creating a “virtual open door” policy.  

4. Do the work

If someone needs help, offer to assist, says Anna Kendall, social media specialist at Priority Health.

“Volunteering to quickly edit something or take on another small project can go a long way toward building goodwill with your coworkers,” she said. 

Erik Schreur, veteran engagement and compliance coordinator and Habitat for Humanity of Michigan said he quickly earned trust and respect with his colleagues by taking initiative. 

“The single greatest way I have found to build relationships in a virtual environment is having ‘working meetings’ — essentially a block of time to just have a video call open and chat with your colleagues while working independently or together. These working meetings in a way create the illusion of being in the office. Keep your camera on though. Nothing kills a virtual call’s energy faster than everyone turning off their cameras.”

5. Avoid assumptions. 

“Don’t assume everyone’s gender identity based on their name or the way they are dressed,” Humiston said. “If you’re not sure what pronouns a person uses, ask! I also put my pronouns in my email signature, so my colleagues knew what they were.” 

They also recommend checking to make sure you are pronouncing names correctly, especially if you work for a global company. 

What are your tips for building trust, developing relationships and strengthening credibility in the remote workplace?


Blog post: How to rock your remote job

Patreon download (all tiers): Building trust with your new coworkers
This download includes an outreach template and 10 questions you can ask to build relationships and trust with your new coworkers.


How to rock your new remote job


Many professionals — including myself — have recently faced the challenge of starting a new job remotely. I’ve never met my new team in person and I’ve never seen our office. 

The remote workplace comes with many benefits, and you need to be intentional about addressing each challenge — including building relationships and trust, finding the right routine, setting up your home office, being proactive and asking questions. 

Below, eight professionals — who work in a variety of industries including health care, law, nonprofit, education and business — share their tips for successfully starting a new remote job. 


Liz RouechLiz Rouech, communications specialist
Bastian Solutions
“When starting a new job remotely, be sure to schedule time with each person you’ll work directly with, one-on-one, over video. Take an hour to chat about work history, personal aspects of your life you’re comfortable sharing, etc. It might feel awkward at first, but you’re essentially forcing your first week’s worth of ‘water cooler talk’ that you won’t get from going to your kitchen sink.”  


Octavia Carson, Esq.Octavia Carson, Esq., judicial law clerk
U.S. Department of Justice 
“Put together your work area in the most organized and comfortable way at the outset. If you decorate the walls and add storage and work supplies, you will feel more excited about getting started. Ask your employer what type of things they can supply you for your work-from-home needs. Some jobs give you all of the office supplies you need and others may give you an allowance towards office supplies.”


Erik Schreur Erik Schreur, veteran engagement and compliance coordinator
Habitat for Humanity of Michigan
“In a remote environment, especially if organizations do not have a virtual training plan established, ask questions and ask to shadow others. In my first days, it was information overload, but in a good way. It has helped me gain a solid foundation of my role and others’ roles and it builds trust and respect within your new team.”


Anna Kendall Anna Kendall, social media specialist 
Priority Health
“You have to be really honest when you don’t understand something. There are a lot of workplace nuances that get lost in the virtual workspace, so people you work with might assume you get it right away because it’s pretty simple to learn in person. Speak up, even if you have to ask multiple times and schedule a working session with someone to really dive into it. Don’t be afraid to ask for hands-on help. Yes, your coworkers are likely busy and stressed, but they’re also probably really happy to have you on their team and want to make sure you feel confident in your role. They will make the time to help and being proactive about it will save everyone time later.” 


Jon HumistonJon Humiston, instructional designer 
“As you’re onboarded, be patient with yourself and the company. Write down all your questions as you’re getting onboarded, so you can review them with your supervisor or mentor. Keep a strict schedule. It’s easy to skip a bit of lunch to finish a project or to work a few hours in the evenings because your workstation is close. Don’t do this. Also, you’ll be sitting a lot, so prepare to build in times for walking and exercise and stick to those break times. In terms of equipment, set up a nice workstation, invest in a comfortable chair and order a good headset (headphones and microphone) to minimize background noise while you are on video calls.” 


Myla EdmondMyla Edmond, associate vice president for communications and marketing
California State University-Dominguez Hills
“Ask your new colleagues how they communicate with one another and use those tools rather than what you prefer or are comfortable using. Be open to different ways of engaging that may not have happened (or happened so soon in the onboarding process) during pre-COVID-19 times like sharing your cell phone number or having conversations about coping with working from home. Be patient with yourself and others as you try to build rapport on teams that have already established that rapport in-person.”


Tanjae ChairseTanjae Chairse, media coordinator
Gage Cannabis
“Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs and set boundaries. I experienced burnout early on because I thought I could handle everything, especially since I was at home. Remember that home and work are two separate things, despite sharing a space. If you know you need a hard cut-off at 6 p.m. or need a few hours to decompress before jumping into a huge project, let your team know. The key is to integrate work into home, so set a routine and be flexible.”


Matt DeVries Matt DeVries, marketing director 
Midland Business Alliance
“A lot of people have shared that developing a routine is a way to stay on track. Wake up at the same time, shower and get dressed like you would any other normal job or workday. I think those things can work and help certain people. But, depending on your organization’s philosophy about schedules, sometimes working periodically throughout the day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. may work better. It’s all about finding what works best for you and allows you to be the most productive.”



Our next post will focus on specific strategies for building relationships and trust with your new coworkers. Be sure to follow @VenturesomePod on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest posts.


Setting boundaries and achieving life-work balance with Lily Allen-Dueñas

Lily Allen-Dueñas serves as the interim executive director of the The State of Women Institute and a holistic health and wellness coach, yoga teacher and meditation instructor. She’s also a master at setting boundaries and life-work balance. 

In this episode, Lily and I talk about the importance of prioritizing your life before work, strategies for achieving life-work balance, and how to set boundaries at work to prevent burnout. 

Want more advice on being ambitious, brave and curious in your career?

Join us on Patreon for special patron-only benefits. 

This month, patrons receive worksheets that help them with self-reflection and identifying their workplace values. You can join for as little as $1 a month.   

Become a Patron! 

Learn more about the initiatives Lily discussed

Amplifying Her Voice: From climate change to self care, racism to financial literacy, the “In Moms We Trust” summit covers a broad range of topic. Sessions also feature women in the space industry, blockchain, podcasting and more. I’ll be on a panel on May 12 called “All Kinds of Coaching & What Makes This Career So Fulfilling.” Register for the Summit, which takes place May 11-13. 

SHEQONOMI: SHEQONOMI is a podcast platform built by millennial women to serve 2 billion women globally, where content creation and listening are rewarded. 

Wild Yoga Tribe: If you’re interested in yoga and meditation with Lily, check out Wild Yoga Tribe and learn about her online classes.


Growing through discomfort and ambiguity


New is uncomfortable. Growth is uncomfortable. 

When you take on an opportunity at a new organization, it’s jarring. You go from expert to unknown. From trusted resource to uncertain authority. 

Just as much as they don’t know or trust you yet, you might not trust yourself. Imposter syndrome sometimes rears its head and your friends remind you, “They hired you for a reason. You’ve got this.”

lightbulb with plant growing within it

I first experienced these feelings when I left Central Michigan University after nearly five years as the associate director of communications and social media. At CMU, I’d led our social media strategies and was the voice of the university online. I’d counseled vice presidents, deans and directors, and I had a seat at the table during critical conversations and crises. As a known, trusted communicator and adviser, I had established relationships across campus. 

In my first few months as director of communications at Davenport University, I experienced the absence of the credibility I’d had at CMU. Not a single person on campus knew me or what I brought to the table. I had to build relationships and confidence in my expertise from scratch while learning to navigate the new realm of private higher ed after years at a public institution. 

You can feel this shift when you take on new projects or work in other industries as well — like when I was asked to lead efforts for a client within the clean energy policy sector. I knew absolutely nothing about clean energy or policy, and had to stretch my skills in a new direction.  

Sahil Bloom explained it well in a recent post, On Competitive Advantage

“Discomfort leads to growth. It is an absolute necessity. If you train yourself to accept and embrace discomfort, you will always have an edge.”

Accepting uncertainty and risk certainly gives you a competitive advantage for your future career growth. My advice for these moments:

1. Listen and observe. You may see 15 things the organization could or needs to change, but first you need to hear what those on the front lines have to say about what they’ve seen and experienced over the years. Take your time and build trust by involving others in your team in the process of identifying, planning and implementing changes. Collect and sort through the ideas, wants, needs and the “this is the way we’ve always done it” comments as you formulate a holistic plan. 

2. Identify your gaps and fill them. You were hired for your strengths, and sometimes it feels like a new job or project shines a light on your weaknesses. There are new terms you don’t know and things you’ve never done. There are new processes and expectations. Note the gaps in your experience and the areas you feel deficient and fill them by asking questions, listening to podcasts, reading and even enrolling in online courses. 

3. Embrace the ambiguity. There’s no syllabus to tell you what’s next. Siri won’t tell you when to merge into a new lane or change directions. Sure, that can be scary. It’s also exciting because it means you have the power to map this journey yourself. 

4. Acknowledge your fears, and don’t let them stop you. Whenever I make a change, I think of all the catastrophic ways that things could go wrong. I could fail. I could fall flat on my face. I could lose everything I’ve worked for. It’s fair to acknowledge the worst that could happen, especially if it helps you make contingency plans. Just don’t let it stop you from growing. Move forward despite your fears while considering and planning for the “worst” case scenarios if that makes you feel more confident.   

It’s in the moments of fear, discomfort and ambiguity you grow the most. Don’t these feelings get in the way of your career momentum.