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Establishing Trust: The Key to Hybrid Work

Trust must be mutual, even in the workplace. There is already a lot of discussion around being a leader that employees can trust, and for good reason – it’s vital for employees to know that their employer is empathetic, approachable, and trustworthy. But there is much less discussion around the importance of leaders trusting their employees. Let’s dive into why trusting employees is key to success and to hybrid work!

Reason 1: Trust empowers.

When hiring, employers select employees who they believe will add value to the company. However, over time, It is tempting to slip into micromanaging, particularly if employees are taking on new responsibilities or handling difficult tasks. However, employees are not empowered to bring their full potential to the job unless leaders give them some autonomy. This often requires employers to take a more “hands off” approach. While it is important to work up to high levels of trust, it is equally important to empower employees by allowing them to solve problems on their own, execute their own plans and strategies, and use creativity to complete their tasks. Leaders will find that when they trust their employees, their team members feel empowered, confident, and productive. Flexible work arrangements such as hybrid work can truly thrive in trust-filled environments.

Reason 2: Trust spreads.

When employees see that their leaders are willing to trust them to produce and deliver value to the company, employees are inclined to bestow that same trust on their coworkers and team. This creates a culture of trust, which is incredibly valuable in the workplace. According to a study by Development Divisions International (DDI), a culture of trust at work increases retention, engagement, innovation, collaboration, and productivity. Trust is also directly correlated to less stress and more energy in the workplace. Trust must come first from leadership, and over time it will spread throughout the company.

Reason 3: Trust connects.

When transitioning to a hybrid work model, if there is no foundation of trust, communication and connection will often break down. Hybrid work comes with its own set of challenges for employees to navigate, such as learning how to properly juggle work and personal responsibilities, figuring out what schedule works best, and adjusting to the new freedom of working from home (or any location other than work). Leaders who have established mutual trust with their employees can overcome these challenges by simply communicating and connecting with employees frequently, such as asking about their struggles, addressing their concerns, and making adjustments as needed. However, leaders who have not established trust will find that their connection with employees breaks down without face-to-face interaction. This will make hybrid work challenging and potentially frustrating for everyone.

Do you need help building trust in your workplace? We Optimize Work is a boutique organizational management consulting firm that helps leaders create processes that increase engagement, performance and satisfaction with teams in different locations. Want to connect? Email Domonique Townsend at

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