Why trust is essential for a strong distributed team
When it comes to operating remote-first and growing as a team, this core value and strategy has far reaching impact.
Our VP of People, Jessica Hayes, got the chance to chat with Remote in their latest Remote Talks episode about Whereby's approach to culture, hiring, and remote work. One theme emerged again and again: trust.
A trusting approach and focus on operations are important to develop culture and capture the benefits of remote work. Jessica explained, “We try our very best to share everything we make so that you can, as an adult, make fully formed decisions and be autonomous… It really works with remote work.”
Instead of aiming to recreate all the dynamics of the physical office space, Whereby’s free video conferencing rooms offer a digital space to connect while offering more privacy, flexibility, and supporting more diverse work styles. Jessica shared how our team uses asynchronous communications, with guidelines for Slack and email to help everyone work collaboratively, apart.
We also run a variety of social events, allowing people to opt in and out and use their social energy to fit their lifestyle. “[In] a remote-first world... your social energy now becomes the people you choose to have around you,” Jessica said, explaining how distributed team members can create a work life balance that better suits their needs.
Trusting team members to know what works for them is a conscious decision that’s built into all operations. To help people feel empowered to do their best work, we give everyone a “full tank of trust” and share information so people can find what they need.
There are some drawbacks, though, as some people prefer to operate with more guidance and regular check ins. For managers, it can also be harder to monitor team members’ feelings and reactions after tough conversations. To avoid disappointment and make sure this way of working works for new hires, practical projects with “ambiguity purposefully baked into them” are required for every role.
That trust also operates as a form of recognition, honouring the unique expertise each person brings to the company. Jessica noted, “The best recognition and reward you can give to anybody is an environment that treats them with respect, filled with other people that are very, very smart and help them learn.”
The People Team’s approach to hiring and compensation prioritizes respect. From paying for all practical projects to providing the team with a transparent compensation calculator, Whereby values the contributions of team members. Using international guidelines and adjusting based on experience level and location, the team has built a calculator and framework to help guide conversations and ensure fair compensation for the worldwide team.