The best teams have clear goals, aligned incentives and they have each other’s backs.

They trust each other implicitly because they feel safe in their work environment. They are able to produce their best work, their most creative work and their most impactful work because they don’t need to waste cycles worrying about politics or unproductive endeavors like unnecessary meetings. Trust is particularly important within remote teams, when in-person social cues are far less frequent.

The alternative scenario, when someone needs to say “just trust me on this one” in the middle of a business conversation spells trouble. I remember a former boss many years ago who would end arguments by saying “trust me, let’s do it this way – I have been doing this for 15 years”. Everyone in the team would cringe, lower their heads and wait for the inevitable: failure. People need trust to feel empowered to raise their hand and challenge things. When someone can’t explain an initiative from first principles that is a red flag, but when a team doesn’t feel empowered to question an initiative, then something is truly broken within your organization.

Every action inside an organization should be clearly aligned with the company’s mission and in support of the company values, but most importantly it needs to make sense.

Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

This all sounds great, but how do you build trust within your remote team?

At Telescoped we believe that trust within a remote team can be achieved by investing time and energy in each of the following elements. This investment will pay off in the long term and it’s one of the most important things you can do for your company. These are simple but they do require hard work, especially at the beginning when you have to spend the time thinking through and documenting each of them. Later on they will become second nature within your company but until that happens it’s important to constantly communicate and reinforce them.

Establish a common mission

It all starts with why. Simon Sinek put it best in his wonderful talk: How Great Leaders Inspire Action. If you want to motivate your team, start by defining your company’s “WHY?“. This is your core purpose, the reason for the company to exist. This should be your guiding star and it shouldn’t change when external realities change. According to Jim Collins, it should stand the test of being relevant for 100 years. Once you have defined it, write it down on your wiki, print it out in cups and use it on screen savers – basically do your best to share it across your organization. This common mission is what inspires people, what gets people up in the morning and what builds companies that change the world. Once you know why, then you can focus on how you get there and what is it that you do as a company, in other words, your products or services.

Hire the right people

In order to attract and hire the best people into your team you need to have clear guidelines to determine who will help you build your culture of trust. Of course this is on top of ensuring that they have the right skills and experience for the job.

First, make sure that whoever you bring on board cares deeply about your mission. If they share your company’s core purpose, they will be motivated to help you and your team build that common future.

TRUST Photo by Frank Eiffert on Unsplash

Second, they need to share the same core values as your team. Together with your core purpose, the company core values make up your core ideology. You should codify how you behave as a company. These values support your mission, they determine how you make decisions and what matters to your company. Together with the company’s core purpose they make up your identity as an organization. Focus on what you really value based on your actions and not on some idealized version of your company, this is not about who you want to be, but about who you are. Bring together the best members of your team, those who exemplify the ideal team member and together brainstorm what your company’s core values are.

The reason why core values are so important is that they help you determine who get’s into your circle of trust; i.e. who you hire, but they also help your team make decisions without needing to ask for permission. In order to scale a business, you need to delegate decision making and your core values are the most valuable tool to enable this.

By making it clear what you value, anyone in the company can be trusted to make their own decisions without a need to ask their manager.


It is also important to communicate, document and clarify which decisions need approval, but the more power you give to your people, the more they will surprise you!

Make transparency a priority

Once you have built a team of passionate people who share your mission and your values, invite them all to the circle of trust within your company. Good leaders make that circle very wide, spanning everyone from the most senior executive to the most junior person within the company. They don’t promote an inner circle, but instead make everyone part of a wider circle of trust. This way everyone in the company feels safe, included and will work hard because they’re part of something bigger than themselves. The larger the circle, the more powerful the combined energy of your team.

For remote teams, trust is key and it must be built in a deliberate way.


Encouraging transparency and having a clearly defined and documented remote work framework is a great start to build trust within your team. The team should have visibility into everyone’s commitments and also into their output. This way instead of wasting time and money on time tracking software, you can simply measure what people accomplished and let them do their best work in a self directed way that is aligned with the company and team goals.

Humanize your remote team

A big part of building trust within our team at Telescoped is our daily ritual. Everyone starts their day sharing typical “stand-up” items like what we’re planning to do, but then we go beyond work into the more human aspects of our day to day – after all we have a life outside of work! Sharing how we’re feeling and a photo of what’s going on in our life is a good way to humanize our remote team and build a stronger relationship among our team members. At the end of the day we check out, sharing what we got done for the day, how our day was, and what we’re hoping to tackle the next day.

Team members are more than a username in Slack or GitHub. When you provide space for people to start learning more about each other as human beings, relationships start to develop based on common interests.

humanize remote work - Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

We go beyond the transactional day to day work and we start to genuinely care about what’s going on with each other’s lives.

It’s great to celebrate everyones successes but even more important to support each other when things aren’t going well inside and outside of work. A little empathy can go a long way to build reciprocal trust within a team.

Build trust and make your team feel safe

A team that trusts each other and feels safe is like a well oiled machine. They love making suggestions and asking questions, building on each other’s strengths and building the most amazing things together. These are the teams that everyone envies because they are productive, they are creative and they are resilient.

Why is it that trust is so core to our performance? Well, if you distrust your leaders or your team, you’re going to spend precious energy looking out for anything that might harm you or for anything to prove your theory that no-one there can be trusted. This is what is commonly described as politics, which is just a symptom of lack of trust. Additionally, your focus and your ability to do deep work also decrease in this type of environment, which means you will be less productive. Most importantly without trust it’s very hard to get motivated!

Teams operate best when they pursue a core purpose with passion and when they build their organization on top of shared values. Creating a culture of trust is key for remote teams to feel safe. Paying attention to how your social cues, processes and workflows encourage people to trust each other is very important.

It doesn’t matter if your company is like Telescoped building software remotely or if you are a local small business in a more traditional line of work, trust is a common thread that can have tremendous impact across industries and for companies big and small.


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