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Building trust when leading remote teams

Upon the release of a major survey from Microsoft, it turns out that employees and leaders fundamentally disagree on key aspects of productivity in the workplace, suggesting that leaders believe working from home is causing issues.

The lack of physical presence can make it difficult for leaders to see when or if employees are at their desks and how focused they are on achieving their set targets, which makes trust in the workplace more difficult to build and maintain, and leads to challenges in breaking down signals used to determine whether an employee is motivated and performing to the required standard.

Employees in high-trust organisations are better at collaborating, more productive, and show greater loyalty than their peers in low-trust organisations. This is because they feel empowered to take risks and innovate, which leads to better performance for the organisation as a whole.

1. Set clear goals

To ensure every employee is aware of their role within the organisation and able to contribute to its success, it’s crucial that they have a thorough understanding of what’s expected from them. This can be achieved by communicating a clear message, outlining the goals of the organisation, and explaining how each individual plays an important part in meeting those goals. Explicitly defining goals and performance requirements not only ensures that leaders have clearly defined expectations but will also encourage autonomy and a sense of ownership among team members.

2. Communicate to drive motivation

For remote communication to be effective, leaders should build a culture of adding people on calls. It is essential to treat remote workers as if they were in the same office space, and loop in the remote person into the meeting when relevant and required. Also, to break up the constantly stiff dynamic, leaders can introduce a bit of humour in their communication, that’s workplace appropriate and recreate that feeling of being in the same place and interacting with the team.

3. Act on feedback

Effective communication is essential to building strong work relationships in a remote working environment. To build trust, communicate effectively and identify opportunities, leaders need to listen to their employees. Feedback is one of the most valuable tools an organisation has to learn about employee engagement. By actively seeking feedback, the leadership team will have a better idea of how well they are serving their employee's needs and what they can do to improve. Organizations that act on this feedback have a greater chance of improving engagement than those that don’t.

4. Share knowledge

Sharing knowledge is a great way to show employees that leaders appreciate their time and contributions. As such, it’s also important to offer opportunities to help develop staff for them to grow within the team. This will not only give a sense of worth and value, but it will also ensure that one person cannot become responsible for too many internal tasks that could slow down operations. In addition, optimising the transfer of knowledge within the organisation can help to avoid inefficiencies and ensure employees are more involved.

Alignment between a leader’s actions, words, and values is the key to building an engaged workforce. Many employees are more likely to become devoted to an organisation when they see leadership practices that match their own beliefs and values. When there is a disconnect between what leaders say and do, employees become less engaged in their work and less committed to the organisation overall.

Trust is essential for a strong and healthy culture. When employees trust one another and the leadership team, they feel more engaged and collaborative. At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering training and development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops, and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at


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