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Ask SGO: How can teams build trust virtually?

Ask SGO: How can teams build trust virtually?

Ask SGO: How can teams build trust virtually?

After almost two years of working remotely, workplaces and organizations are trying to figure out how to move forward. Rachel Sadler, DEI Facilitator for She+ Geeks Out, gives tips for how to strengthen teams and build trust virtually.

Teams can build trust virtually by primarily focusing on relationships. When we’re in the workplace, we get to chat around the water cooler or the coffee pot, right? Maybe you’ll take a stretch break and walk over to somebody’s office or cubicle. We really can’t do that in the virtual space.

Build relationships

So the first thing I want to do is work on relationship building. This can be done by having 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of your meetings, just to kind of take some time and check in with people. If you have a large organization, you can put people in little breakout rooms, and they can talk about what happened over the weekend. Like, Halloween was this past weekend, so let’s show pictures of our kids or pets in their costumes, things of that nature. That way people are getting an opportunity to kind of settle into the meeting. 

Set expectations

Also, having norms and expectations that are consistent across the meetings. So, if we say, we’re gonna have a meeting on Mondays at 9, make that consistent. And if it’s going to end at 11, end at 11, because if you keep pushing it back, people start to tune you out because they planned for other things. Even if that means you have to table some conversations until the next meeting, definitely honor people’s time, and they can lean into that expectation, understanding that this is where we are going to meet, this is what we’re going to talk about, and then we can move past it and go on to other things.


The last thing is to overcommunicate. Being clear about the project expectations and then being clear about where you are on a project. In the physical space, you can stop by somebody’s desk and say, “hey, where are you on this thing?” We can’t really do that in the virtual space unless you really want to blow up somebody’s email and nobody likes that either. So just provide updates via e-mail, slack, text messages, on where you are in a particular project, especially if it’s a big one, so that way people know and they don’t have to keep checking in.

Tools for Team Building

I do want to add a caveat about building relationships. Here at SGO, we have silly Slack channels. We have a pet Slack channel, a random Slack channel. Taking some time throughout the day so people could just add in something fun. Like, “my cat just totally took over my keyboard”, will allow people to build relationships with other people and say, “oh, my cat totally does the same thing,” and that way they can have a little moment to decompress. There is an app called Recess that works with Slack to help you kind of develop those things if they don’t come to your organization naturally.

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