Recruiters
July 13, 2020

Building Trust with a Remote Workforce: Zoom as a Source of Influence

Zoom is a relatively new technology for the workforce, that has been praised for its abilities to share-screens, Videoconference, and chat with other group members. But with so many features also comes the challenge to successfully navigate and manage such a robust platform.
Source: Unsplash

Building relationships with a remote workforce is no easy task and leaves a lot “up in the air” for employers and managers who take on new employees they have never met in person. In a pre-coronavirus world, where you could meet shortly after your Zoom interview, there was less ambiguity about what to expect from the employer, how to dress while on the clock and how to communicate effectively with your higher ups.

Now that the world is shifting to remote work, at an ever-increasing pace, it will be interesting to see how working relationships will change. When managers use video and audio communications tools such as Zoom to continuously get in touch with employees, sometimes the interpretation of the language being used on these applications can either hinder trust between employee relations, or help build trust. This post is dedicated to understanding how to build trust with remote developers who will be actively using these platforms to maintain communications with managers.

Using Zoom: Friend or Foe?

Zoom is an amazing technology that is used by academics, the corporate and private sector, and of course families who log on from different time zones during the holidays or for occasional virtual meet-ups. The technology, at its most social form, can be a great way for loved ones to simply see each other's face and provide an emotional response that allows for subjective experience to create new memories and reminisce on familial gatherings.   

From a managerial and perhaps more corporate perspective, as is the case for working with remote developers, Zoom technology is meant to hold an objective virtual “meeting room” for the employer and employee. Unlike familial gatherings meant for family members to simply experience seeing one another’s faces—Zoom meetings at the organizational level are expected to have goals set out and accomplish something.

When Zoom meetings go well, and there is a clear sense of the delegated tasks to the employee, and their relations are pleasant and well-received, this is in itself an accomplishment. When employees go into Zoom meetings already knowing it will be a productive session with employers, that process builds trust. In turn, a successful Zoom meeting with clear objectives met gives the remote developer a real sense they can trust their higher ups to set such objectives.

De-Coding Language in a Zoom call

Managing remote workers and having successful and efficient Zoom calls also means being able to de-code language when necessary and having the remote developer feel comfortable with the spoken and written content being exchanged.  

This might be tricky when U.S. based managers are communicating with remote developers from other countries because even if the employee is fluent, in say, English, there still might be issues of ambiguity as to how language sounds, how it is used, and the medium of Zoom might not be as effective as an in-person meeting is to fully grasp the language barriers that might exist.  

Coded language in a Zoom call or chat can produce ambiguity and erode trust if an employee or remote worker feels they never quite know what the manager is doing. For example, in the U.S., during the beginning of 1st round interviews, it is quite common for the interviewer to talk about the weather. This is basically a ritual in American culture. It is like a code that is performed.  

When an American employee speaks to an American employer about the weather, the actual purpose of talking about the weather is not really to know, or care about the weather. It is to put off the real topic of conversation for a moment as a sign of mutual respect for one another.  

However, for remote developers, an increasing global position with many workers of many nationalities, this custom, as well as others, might produce ambiguity and leave the developer feeling confused about how they navigated the call. In this way, Zoom, as a platform presents so many opportunities to really connect with remote employees, and also so many opportunities for potential confusion. This is the trade-off of such an advanced technology.

Behaviors on Display and Virtual Happy Hours

Managing a remote team on Zoom can also be difficult in terms of building trust because behaviors are always on display, versus more natural interactions that can take place in an in-person office environment. It isn’t really expected in today’s remote culture, or at least the book hasn’t been written yet, on if managers should schedule a Zoom call to simply check in with an employee or talk about weekend plans. However, in the office, we always make time for this. We don’t mind socializing in person. But whose to say you can’t socialize in a virtual setting?

With Covid-19 and the influx of remote work possibilities, one way major organizations, like Amazon, are dealing with so much WFH is to plan virtual happy hours with co-workers, simply for the purpose of getting to know one another better.  

One colleague, who works on a Sales team and lives in Brooklyn, and stays home a lot now due to Covid-19, and is constantly on Zoom, told me, “It feels awkward at first to have to meet people with a drink through a screen, but it does help the next day when you’re talking to the person again and know you both participated in a virtual HH last night”.

TagsRemote WorkforceZoomVirtual Meeting
Michael Robbins
Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

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RecruitersJuly 13, 2020
Building Trust with a Remote Workforce: Zoom as a Source of Influence
Zoom is a relatively new technology for the workforce, that has been praised for its abilities to share-screens, Videoconference, and chat with other group members. But with so many features also comes the challenge to successfully navigate and manage such a robust platform.

Building relationships with a remote workforce is no easy task and leaves a lot “up in the air” for employers and managers who take on new employees they have never met in person. In a pre-coronavirus world, where you could meet shortly after your Zoom interview, there was less ambiguity about what to expect from the employer, how to dress while on the clock and how to communicate effectively with your higher ups.

Now that the world is shifting to remote work, at an ever-increasing pace, it will be interesting to see how working relationships will change. When managers use video and audio communications tools such as Zoom to continuously get in touch with employees, sometimes the interpretation of the language being used on these applications can either hinder trust between employee relations, or help build trust. This post is dedicated to understanding how to build trust with remote developers who will be actively using these platforms to maintain communications with managers.

Using Zoom: Friend or Foe?

Zoom is an amazing technology that is used by academics, the corporate and private sector, and of course families who log on from different time zones during the holidays or for occasional virtual meet-ups. The technology, at its most social form, can be a great way for loved ones to simply see each other's face and provide an emotional response that allows for subjective experience to create new memories and reminisce on familial gatherings.   

From a managerial and perhaps more corporate perspective, as is the case for working with remote developers, Zoom technology is meant to hold an objective virtual “meeting room” for the employer and employee. Unlike familial gatherings meant for family members to simply experience seeing one another’s faces—Zoom meetings at the organizational level are expected to have goals set out and accomplish something.

When Zoom meetings go well, and there is a clear sense of the delegated tasks to the employee, and their relations are pleasant and well-received, this is in itself an accomplishment. When employees go into Zoom meetings already knowing it will be a productive session with employers, that process builds trust. In turn, a successful Zoom meeting with clear objectives met gives the remote developer a real sense they can trust their higher ups to set such objectives.

De-Coding Language in a Zoom call

Managing remote workers and having successful and efficient Zoom calls also means being able to de-code language when necessary and having the remote developer feel comfortable with the spoken and written content being exchanged.  

This might be tricky when U.S. based managers are communicating with remote developers from other countries because even if the employee is fluent, in say, English, there still might be issues of ambiguity as to how language sounds, how it is used, and the medium of Zoom might not be as effective as an in-person meeting is to fully grasp the language barriers that might exist.  

Coded language in a Zoom call or chat can produce ambiguity and erode trust if an employee or remote worker feels they never quite know what the manager is doing. For example, in the U.S., during the beginning of 1st round interviews, it is quite common for the interviewer to talk about the weather. This is basically a ritual in American culture. It is like a code that is performed.  

When an American employee speaks to an American employer about the weather, the actual purpose of talking about the weather is not really to know, or care about the weather. It is to put off the real topic of conversation for a moment as a sign of mutual respect for one another.  

However, for remote developers, an increasing global position with many workers of many nationalities, this custom, as well as others, might produce ambiguity and leave the developer feeling confused about how they navigated the call. In this way, Zoom, as a platform presents so many opportunities to really connect with remote employees, and also so many opportunities for potential confusion. This is the trade-off of such an advanced technology.

Behaviors on Display and Virtual Happy Hours

Managing a remote team on Zoom can also be difficult in terms of building trust because behaviors are always on display, versus more natural interactions that can take place in an in-person office environment. It isn’t really expected in today’s remote culture, or at least the book hasn’t been written yet, on if managers should schedule a Zoom call to simply check in with an employee or talk about weekend plans. However, in the office, we always make time for this. We don’t mind socializing in person. But whose to say you can’t socialize in a virtual setting?

With Covid-19 and the influx of remote work possibilities, one way major organizations, like Amazon, are dealing with so much WFH is to plan virtual happy hours with co-workers, simply for the purpose of getting to know one another better.  

One colleague, who works on a Sales team and lives in Brooklyn, and stays home a lot now due to Covid-19, and is constantly on Zoom, told me, “It feels awkward at first to have to meet people with a drink through a screen, but it does help the next day when you’re talking to the person again and know you both participated in a virtual HH last night”.

Remote Workforce
Zoom
Virtual Meeting
About the author
Michael Robbins -Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

Related Articles