Magic in the Room #45: Building Trust When Working From Home

What happens to trust in an organization when some “essential” workers are required to be onsite, while other “non-essential” workers work from home? In this episode, Luke, Chris, and Hannah discuss this question with recurring guest Dr. Bob Schooley and outline strategies for building trust in remote work environments.


Today’s conversation was inspired by an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, work from home is corroding our trust in each other. It highlights how there’s an essential group of employees in many organizations that have to go in and be present at work. Others are considered non-essential and can work from home.

The authors share interesting data that suggests an erosion of trust between those who have to come into the office and those that aren’t. It centers around those that have to go into the office, believe that their WFH peers are not working as much or are as productive as they are. Have you experienced any of these trust issues on your team?

Chris shares how this is much less of an issue for him because he treats every interaction with the people he engages with as if it matters. Chris shows that he genuinely cares and respects his team and will always have their best interests at heart. This is why he believes it’s pivotal that we develop leaders that engage in that way and have the expectation within our organizations that in every transaction and how we show up. As a team, we are explicitly clear about the expectations of where we come from, our approaches, and how we represent our enterprise.

Luke reveals how one of the fundamentals of building trust is vulnerability. Suppose you demonstrate courage by putting yourself out there to show how you care enough to have a weird, awkward, virtual meeting and encourage healthy conflict. In that case, most people will automatically assume that you will probably be doing the necessary work when off-camera at home too.

Hannah shares how leaders now require a whole new level of intentionality. The things that people trust are typically the things they see. We trust what we see more than what we hear, which is why body language and facial expressions matter. We trust what we say, and our brains read that information and make a value judgment. Is this a positive situation or a negative situation? Is this going to help me? Or is this a threat to me in some way? And we read that much faster than our thinking brain can process that information.

These are just a few reasons why Hannah and her team encourage people to have their cameras on during Zoom calls. It helps us provide more information when we communicate. Being more intentional about how we bring people together can have a much more positive impact on teams. The podcasts hosts also explore strategies in how to overcome trust issues between remote workers.

Dr. Bob Schooley also discusses how if we want to earn someone’s trust, it should be seen in everything that we do for our team members. Chris shares his belief that if we want our organizations to be trusted, we need to implement trustworthy processes. Hannah also reminds the listeners that trust is never static. It’s dynamic and has to be intentionally managed and built.

Please share your trust issues with your fellow remote working employees. How have you overcome these challenges and successfully built trust? Let us know by messaging Chris, Hannah, and Luke at

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