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A message from our CEO: How to maintain and develop trust when working in a virtual world

Olivier Herold

01 June 2020

Even if we start to gradually move out of lockdown mode in many countries and perhaps have an opportunity to meet some of our colleagues in person again, I know how difficult it is to allow ourselves the time to stay truly connected to and support our people, many of whom are likely to continue working from home in the foreseeable future.  

How do we maintain and develop trust and engagement among our teams when most people work virtually and where a significant proportion of staff may even be furloughed for a period of time? 

At The Oxford Group, we all share a strong belief that trusting relationships are the foundation of sustainable business performance – so much so that it is one of our four company values.  The power of conversations in building trust and engagement across teams is even more important when you take away physical presence and all of the helpful indicators that come with it, like body language, facial expressions and the ease of connection that physical proximity provides.

In these moments of uncertainty and fear, I have found it really useful to have conversations with team members about our motivators and demotivators when working from home, to understand what’s going on for people and what their needs are. We have also introduced a ‘light’ way of doing this collectively through a Friday Virtual Happy Hour for all our staff. It’s a 30-minute Zoom call with no agenda – its only purpose is to connect, chat and share virtually before the weekend. I encourage people to join away from their desk, bringing some of that connection back for teams who are physically distant.

Personally, I have found that taking the time to have these critical conversations helps me to develop even more trusting relationships among staff. Our March employee engagement result, despite the Covid-19 crisis, is the highest ever employee engagement score at The Oxford Group. We will see in the coming months if we are able to maintain the level of engagement and we will continue to learn how we can improve on other key indicators like collaboration.

Of course, this is only my experience, and I hope the example in this message may give you one or two ideas to try out in your organisation! I would love to hear from you what has worked for you to keep your employees engaged!

Stay safe and engaged.

My very best wishes,

Olivier

We explore the power of conversations in The Oxford Group’s 5 Conversations programme – find out more here.