After two years of working from home around the world, people are more willing to trust each other in the hybrid or even fully remote model. New global research from Cisco has found that worldwide, 70.5% of employees believe their manager trusts them to be productive when working remotely - and that trust, or at least the perception of trust, has a significant effect on a company's readiness to transition to the hybrid model.
"Employees are asking for trust," says Anupam Trehan, Cisco's Senior Director for People and Communities APJC. "And trust is not just in one direction - it's not just the trust I have in my manager. It is multi-directional. It's the trust my manager has in me, the trust that I have in the people working with me, and it's not just trust in work, but trust that they have my back in everything that's happening."
"If I have to suddenly step out of the office, I want to be able to send a message to my team, telling them I really need to step out, and have them reply 'We got you'. That is when you know that your team is behind you - not just from a work perspective, but they will just be there for you. And that is so important, that's what people want."
Unfortunately, the research also found that trust within and between teams is still lacking. Only 58.9% of employees believe that their colleagues can be trusted to work remotely. And despite the general impression that managers trust them, 55.3% said that micromanaging behaviours have increased with remote and hybrid working - something that Trehan suspects speaks to the need for control.
The problem, she says, is that lack of trust is not only going to offset the benefits of remote work, it also undermines the entire idea of enabling employees to do their best.
"If there is a perception of lack of trust, whether from an employer, leader, or employee perspective, you are always operating from a space that is defensive versus from a place where you feel that you are trusted and you are bringing your best."
A previous study by Cisco found that as many as 60% of employees worldwide would consider hybrid or flexible arrangements a factor in deciding whether to seek out a new job - suggesting that as the perceived lack of trust trickles down to affect how well hybrid work is implemented, it is ultimately going to hit retention rates.
A final word on trust came from Cisco's President Asean, Tay Bee Kheng. "The reason we can have hybrid work is because we have a good boss and a good company which trusts us to do our work from anywhere we want," she said. "But not all companies have that culture. Because speaking as a leader myself, I understand that feeling that maybe it's better if I can see my people working. But that's not the way it will be when it comes to a hybrid environment."