The biggest pain point that a lot of remote employees or dispersed teams have is a lack of information and alignment. People aren’t operating on the same planes of context with the same information. Lack of transparency among remote team members can turn even the most skilled employees into less-than-ideal resources for any company. Transparency becomes an even bigger challenge for remote employees who don’t have face-to-face interactions with their colleagues every day. There is no way for remote employees to get in-depth information about a project or the company as a whole unless it is explicitly shared with them.

Team members who don’t have access to all the data they need regarding the project they are handling will not be able to develop a broader view of the project and the value of the tasks they are handling. It makes employees feel left out and unstable which directly affects their performance and project output. 

That’s why transparency is important in organizations. It creates a sense of stability and ownership among remote employees. 

Why is transparency so important in remote teams? 

Fostering transparency is one of the most important things you need to do to establish a positive company culture in your organization, especially in remote teams that have restricted interactions.

The reason behind establishing transparency within the organization is simple: Nobody likes secrets. People are inherently curious. No one feels comfortable being surrounded by hidden information and secrets, especially in the workplace.

Transparency directly affects employee engagement and the trust people have in the organization. The best business leaders and managers use transparency to foster a sense of security, stability, and trust in employees. 

Moreover, teams that don’t practice transparency in their processes suffer from numerous communication issues and mistrust, which can severely affect team performance and the workplace environment. 

Lack of transparency can cause employees to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and disengaged. The opaque workflows with no transparent goals or agenda can eventually lead to bad decision making, causing critical work failures.

Transparency drives out wasteful practices, promotes shared learning, and improves collaboration. Many organizations hesitate to establish transparency guidelines mainly because they think it will jeopardize company privacy. But transparency is just as important as privacy in an organization. The idea is to find a sweet spot between transparency and privacy so that you can get the benefit of both.

Is there transparency in your team?

Before you modify your team processes to make them more transparent, you need to analyze and understand the current state of transparency in your team. 

There are five main questions for transparent communication that you should consider:

  • Communication: Do your team members have open communication about the project or daily tasks? Do you use the common team channel to have all discussions or does every team member have 1:1 discussions only?
  • Honesty: Do some of your team members hide things or manipulate information from their colleagues primarily because they don’t trust each other?
  • Feedback: Do team members actively accept feedback from the manager and incorporate it in their work, or do they defend themselves and ignore feedback?
  • Respect: Do your team members have mutual respect for each other and clear any conflicts right away? 
  • Admitting mistakes: Do team members admit when they are wrong and clear the air with their coworkers?

How to improve transparency in a remote team

1. Streamline communication within the team

You should ensure that all the team members communicate in a transparent manner. While there are a lot of ways to communicate remotely (messages, phone calls, video calls, and email), the right one will depend on your team’s requirements. 

You can use messaging apps to collaborate in real-time. Team communication channels can be used to share ideas, problems, and issues so that everyone is always in the loop. Routine team meetings can be held over video calls to catch up with everyone and discuss problems that might be affecting the team’s performance.  

2. Create accountability

Even when team members work remotely according to their own schedule, each one should report on their work output in a way that is easily accessible to the whole team so it’s easier to track progress. By encouraging team members to share their work with everyone, you can create more accountability and increase transparency within the team which will directly boost productivity and team morale.

3. Use the right tools 

No transparency strategies will ever work for your remote team if you don’t have the right tools to support it. If the different tools you use for work silo the team members and project data, then it will become all the more difficult for you to create transparency. 

Instead, you need a unified tool like a digital workplace that can allow remote team members to share documents online, collaborate on projects and tasks, and have conversations in real-time to get the work going, all through the same platform. It also gives more transparency to department heads and business leaders by allowing them to review internal business processes and ensure the business runs smoothly.

Take a top-down approach to transparency

You can’t create a transparent working environment just by including it in your company’s core values and creating a transparency guideline for your employees. Business leaders need to take a top-down approach to transparency so employees can better understand its importance. C-suite executives and department heads should be transparent with employees about the company’s current plans, future goals, hiring initiatives, and yearly revenue which will help instill a sense of stability among remote employees.