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Trust Is a Must

According to Professor David Redmiles, building trust among colleagues who work together remotely from different locations — known as virtual or distributed teams — is not just essential to completing tasks; it actually enables them to reach new levels of innovation and productivity. “The challenge,” Professor Redmiles says, “lies in finding ways to promote trust among people who cannot meet face to face. How can virtual teams develop and create trust? And what steps can they take to get back on track when that trust breaks down?”

Great Expectations

“The heart of trust is a better understanding among people,” Professor Redmiles says. Fostering understanding means taking a careful look at the different expectations people bring to the table. Those expectations can be straightforward, such as responding to emails within 24 hours. Or they can be more complex, such as whether collaborators are passive or assertive when it comes to problem solving. “People even have expectations about body language,” Professor Redmiles notes. “The bottom line is that every collaborator on a team has expectations — and when they’re set appropriately and then met, trust is engendered.”

Strength In Numbers

With colleagues spread out in locations from Europe to South America, Professor Redmiles is broadening the community of people working on trust and collaboration in virtual teams. His research has applications for industries across the globe: “Whether we’re talking about distributed teams for software or regional emergency management,” he says, “Identifying the factors that influence and create trust can help bring people together and transform the way we do business.”


David Redmiles - photo:  Steve Zylius/UC Irvine Communications
“By identifying the factors that influence and create trust, we can help people achieve new heights in business and personal collaborations.”

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