The importance of being in the same room–familiarity breeds trust

I came across an interesting article this morning from academics at MIT who have been researching the importance of face time in the office for over a decade. Their research suggests that people who work remotely get lower performance evaluations, smaller raises and fewer promotions. This is the key paragraph:

Companies rarely promote people into leadership roles who haven’t been consistently seen and measured. It’s a familiarity thing, and it’s a trust thing. We’re not saying that the people who get promoted are stars during every “crucible” moment at the office, but at least they’re present and accounted for. And their presence says: Work is my top priority. I’m committed to this company. I want to lead. And I can.

This is interesting to me because the concept of ‘face time’ stretches beyond remote working and performance evaluations to building trust generally. The high level of uncertainty at startups makes trust between team members particularly important and this research is a reminder that trust follows face time. Most of our portfolio companies open international offices in the US and many of them have development in eastern Europe and encouraging travel between the different sites is the key to getting the face time necessary to build trust and help keep everyone pulling in the same direction.