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WFH erodes trust, shows value of commercial office space

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Working from Home is Damaging Employee Trust

While working from home is most likely here to stay, at least in some form, a recent article in the Harvard Business Review points to growing trust issues between employees who work from home and don’t enjoy the once common in-person interactions that occur in commercial office spaces.

In the article’s summary, authors Mark Mortensen and Heidi K. Gardner get right to the point.

“While employees were willing to give one another some latitude earlier in the pandemic, now, almost a year in, their trust is wearing thin, and some find themselves wondering whether their remote employees are actually working at home. Companies that fail to address this crisis are likely to see lower morale, increased attrition, lower productivity, and stalled innovation. Leaders need to address the underlying issues in order to build a sustainable model of trust.” WFH is Corroding Our Trust in Each Other. Harvard Business Review

The problem is occurring in companies across the board, even in those that have seen the productivity from employees who work from home remain high during the pandemic. The authors stress that company leaders need to address this problem now, before it grows any worse.

An Erosion of Trust

The authors list four possible reasons for the erosion of trust.

  • Once only used by select employees who were trusted by companies and fellow employees, work from home is now common.
  • Many employees struggle to work at home and balance other responsibilities, such as caring for children who are learning remotely.
  • Economic uncertainty and worries about job stability create a heightened level of anxiety and wariness of others, even co-workers.
  • The challenges of quickly moving from working in a commercial office space to working from home increase the likelihood that an employee may sometimes fail to live up to work obligations.
Trust is Essential

Research shows that two types of trust are essential for people to effectively work together:

  • The belief that others will deliver high-quality work, and
  • The believe that others have high integrity and good intentions.

Unlike in the past, when most employees worked in commercial office spaces and regularly interacted with one another, working from home cuts down or eliminates these relationships. It turns out these interactions are crucial to developing trust among workers. “Once trust is lost, it’s very hard to regain,” say Gardner and Mortensen.

Possible Solutions

While monitoring employees who work from home with things such as keystroke counters or taking periodic photos using the computer camera may seem like an easy fix and a way to maintain productivity, it doesn’t work say the authors.

They report that the scientific way to build trust is to use the following methods:

  • Leverage reciprocal trust. Research shows that trusting others and acting accordingly increases the trust others have in you.
  • Create a “trust staircase”. Small, repeated steps gradually build trust. Repeated low-risk tasks that offer people a chance to demonstrate their competency and integrity build trust among groups. Gradually build to more significant tasks.
  • Communications. While it may seem that everything has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, many things remain the same. Focus on communicating the things that haven’t changed. This can increase the sense of stability and reduce uncertainty among workers.
Commercial Office Space is Still Vital

Many companies are learning that working from home creates its own set of problems. As a result, managers and employees alike are rediscovering the vital role commercial office space plays in corporate culture and worker productivity. 

Our blog posting Commercial Office Space Still Vital goes into this topic in greater depth. It’s a must read for those who are struggling with the role the office will play in their companies in the future.

Creating Offices Spaces for the Future

At Miller’s Landing, we’re bullish on the future of commercial office spaces. While the role of the office is evolving, it continues to play a key role in corporate culture and many employees actually prefer to work at the office versus working at home.

About Miller’s Landing

Miller’s Landing is an exciting new multi-use development in Castle Rock, CO. We’re creating a dynamic pedestrian-friendly town center supported by attractive multifamily housing and commercial office space. Miller’s Landing also offers easy access via bike or walking to downtown Castle Rock and the region’s top outdoor recreation park.

The town center will offer desirable locations for restaurants, retail stores and entertainment venues. Unlike other developments, Miller’s Landing also offers large swaths of open space for work, recreation and rejuvenation.

About Castle Rock, Colorado

Castle Rock is a growing south Denver suburb located on the I-25 corridor. For more than 20 years, Castle Rock has rated as one of the best places to live and open a business in Colorado. It’s small town atmosphere, combined with access to good jobs, easy access to nearby Denver to the north and Colorado Springs to the south and abundant recreation opportunities makes Castle Rock a top choice for highly educated, well-trained professionals

Most work in white collar occupations, with 31 percent working in high-tech industries. These professionals provide companies with a large pool of prospective employees. And while many currently commute to work, a  2017 analysis by the National Association of Realtors® found that a majority would prefer to work locally. 

Building for the Future

At Miller’s Landing we’re building for the future. We’re creating a new community that will be one of the Denver area’s most desirable places to live, work and play. Join us. Let’s build our future together.

Have an Idea? Let Us Know!

Listening to the community remains a top priority at Miller’s Landing, especially as we navigate the rapidly changing markets for hospitality and office users. We look forward to continuing our conversation with you on the next steps for Miller’s Landing.

If you have thoughts or ideas about Miller’s Landing, please share them with us. The Community Share section on the Miller’s Landing website offers a section to share your thoughts with us. We welcome your involvement!

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