Chapter 27

Building Trust at a Distance

Trust is critical for the effectiveness, creativity, and productivity of teams who collaborate from different locations. Leading with trust requires employing specific strategies to overcome the disadvantages of working in different locations. In this chapter, we discuss the top trust-building challenge for virtual teams, how intimacy and reliability can compensate for the downside of distance, how to use communication technologies strategically, and how to apply best practices for building trust at a distance.

How do you build trust when you never get a chance to look your team members in the eye and shake hands? Virtual teams face a unique challenge: compensating for the disadvantages of distance.

To build and maintain trust effectively, virtual teams need to strategically address the quality and quantity of interaction between team members.

In co-located teams, physical proximity plays an important role in building trust. Contact is more frequent, visual and auditory cues enrich communication, and there are more opportunities for casual social interaction. The personal contact that comes from working in the same physical location creates a sense of connection. A sense of connection helps team members communicate and collaborate effectively.

Obviously problems arise when there is a low level of trust between team members in an in-house relationship. Those same problems are magnified even more in the case of distant relationships. Less-rich ...

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