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Creating trust and human proximity over distance


Human proximity via direct personal contact is currently a rare commodity – and at the same time a core requirement for agile, motivated and independent work, no matter of a person’s character. But how do we create this closeness without direct contact? The market is currently being flooded with digital tools to create proximity across these distances, especially in times of domestic isolation and increasing distance. Well applied, they can help to combine the creativity of new work approaches and the dynamics of agile project management with the element of proximity and trust.  

What makes proximity and trust so relevant for companies

Because it simply essential to build trust. This trust influences how much a person identifies with something, people or goals and also with the work.

And this makes it an increasingly important factor for our working environment, our economic success, the employee experience and for how much we all enjoy our work. And not only because people who perceive and feel closeness are better off. Proximity creates trust, trust creates loyalty and loyalty creates conviction, commitment and dedication.

Managers often experience how closeness and trust spur teams on to top performance – but a lack of closeness and trust often leads to the opposite. Work is done by the book, teams and employees do not work together as closely as they should, and motivation suffers.

Emotional closeness, to the employer, to the manager, to the team and to colleagues over physical distance

Proximity and trust arise, among other things, from the fact that we get to know each other as people – personally. Through personal meetings we perceive our counterpart more holistically than over the telephone, a video chat or an e-mail. We can communicate verbally and non-verbally, have formal and informal communication and with all these means we can build, create and maintain trust and emotional closeness over time.

However, our working world is increasingly characterised by physical distance, and Corona reinforces this. Business trips will be more questioned, the cost pressure on companies will increase and the willingness to invest in large offices or personal meetings will at least partially decrease.

Digital tools and elements of agile project management create proximity and trust

This now offers the opportunity to draw digitally from the full. Let’s start with the basics: Video stings Voice – and always does. A switched off camera kills the digital space. So – home office? Business trip? Show up on video – seeing the other person is much more than hearing him!

Next: Frequency – the more often people meet, the better they get to know each other and the sooner trust is established. Regular digital (short) team meetings, meetings or even the Scrum element “the Daily” are wonderful instruments to grow closeness and trust in the digital space.

Not everyone likes The Daily, by the way. Especially when long-estabilshed teams with little change history switch to agile project management, it often feels weird: too much corset, too much discipline, why should I really communicate EVERY DAY and answer questions about what I am doing? Managers often experience great resistance here.

But it is now becoming clear that the “Daily” has another, currently very important function in addition to its content: every participant sees himself every day – digitally. They see where the others stand, have contact, know what the colleagues are doing. This is a completely new dimension, which often previously did not come to the fore in direct physical proximity. So in digital rooms: cheers to the “Daily”!

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

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