Many people enjoy the daily ritual of going to the office: getting dressed for work, picking up their coffee on the way in, and enjoying watercooler chats throughout the day. But there’s plenty of people who would rather avoid the commute, stay home, and get stuff done from their quiet home office. In one study, 34 percent of United States workers said they would take a pay cut of up to five percent in order to work remotely. Remote work can be incredibly appealing. It can offer amazing benefits like a more flexible schedule, more time to see family and friends, and the ability to work from anywhere. Plus, as an employer, it means your hiring pool expands significantly. With remote workers, you can hire from anywhere in the world. Think your company could benefit from out-of-office employees? Check out these tips for hiring remote workers.
Set Clear Expectations
Setting clear performance expectations with any employee is vital to success, but this can be especially important for employees who work remotely. Employees working from home, or a coffee shop, or the library, or anywhere that isn’t your office don’t have the same clear structure as your in-office employees. Without that built-in structure, it’s crucial to create a structure for those employees through communication, questions, and expectations so that remote workers are left behind the rest of your in-office team. Some questions you might want to ask to define success for a remote worker include key areas such as:
- Do you expect remote workers to be online during nine to five office hours or can they work when they want?
- How often do remote workers need to check in with the office?
- Do you have the same productivity expectations for your remote workers as those in your office?
- What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) or objective and key metrics (OKRs) that remote workers will be measured by?
- What improvements do you hope to see from introducing a remote work option?
- How will you balance relationships between remote employees and in-office employees?
Over-communication is key when coordinating with remote workers. Even though you can still communicate with remote employees through tools like Slack, Zoom, or Zight (formerly CloudApp), establishing clearly defined expectations from the start can set your employees up for success and can relieve you from some of the stress of not being able to see your remote employees working at their desks throughout the day.
Start with Contract Workers
With how modern work has evolved in the last decade or so, one of the convenient aspects of remote work is how flexible potential employees tend to be. If you’re nervous about hiring someone you’ve never met in person, a contract-worker-to-hire program might be a good alternative. This allows you to try out a remote worker program before making remote workers a big part of your full-time workforce. You can start with either a specific project or a set period of time to make sure their work meets your standards and their skills match what you are looking for in a remote employee. The program also offers a can to ensure the potential employee gels well with the rest of your team and is a good company culture fit or addition. If things are working well, you can offer your remote worker a full-time position, and if not, you can let the contract end and try something different. Whatever your situation, if you’re on the fence about hiring remote workers, a contract working program is the way to go.
Look in the Right Places
Your usual job posting sites might not attract the widespread pool of talent you are seeking in order to hire a remote worker. Luckily some job sites are remote employee/hiring specific and give you access to a talent pool that is in search of remote work. Here are a few where you might consider listing your position are:
If you do decide to use traditional job posting sites, be sure to include on your listing that you are looking for a remote worker or that remote working is an option so those looking to work from home can still find your job opening.
Use a Variety of Interview Methods
The interview process you use for in-office employees might not work if you are hiring an employee that doesn’t reside within your state or region (or even within your country). Imagine how expensive the process might get flying every candidate in to meet the team face-to-face. Instead, you can use a variety of methods such as email, phone calls, and video conferences to get the full picture of your remote workers’ capabilities, personality, and culture fit. Emails can help you see their writing abilities and communication skills which will be especially important for collaborating with more distant teammates. Phone and video chats can give you a sense of a candidate’s personality and verbal communication skills and allow more organic communication. Video chats can be especially helpful, as face-to-screen communication is as close as you can get to in-person communication without actually being there. Whichever methods you decide to use for your hiring process, try using a mixture so you can get a more complete picture of your candidates.
Ask the Right Questions
Getting a sense of a remote worker’s skill set is essential, but it can also be helpful to know that remote work is something they are truly comfortable with. Like was mentioned before, over-communicating with your remote employees through questions and expectations can create a more positive and successful experience for candidate, employee, or employer alike. Here are some questions you should ask your remote work candidates:
- Have you done remote work before?
- Why would you rather work remotely than in an office?
- Will you be able to unplug from work after hours and on vacation?
- Are you comfortable communicating with coworkers on chat apps like Slack or Google Hangouts?
- Will you ever want to visit the office?
- Do you have a suitable home office?
If you find that the individual is comfortable with remote work, be sure to evaluate their ability level in completing their work remotely. After that evaluation, it would be smart to provide regular check ups with your remote employees to see how they are adjusting to working remotely with your organization or if they have any new needs or concerns about their remote work situation.
Provide Face-to-Face Opportunities
Just because a remote employee isn’t in the office every day doesn’t mean they don’t need personal connections with coworkers. It won’t be financially feasible for every company, but you might consider bringing remote workers into the office once or twice a year to get to know everyone on a more personal level and become familiar with the environment. Many companies host off-sites or company getaways that allow their remote and in-office employees to mingle and get to know each other in a more casual setting. Or if you have multiple remote employees that live in the same location, encourage them to meet up for lunch periodically, work together in the same space occasionally, or find something more casual to do together so they feel more connected. Remember, remote workers are human too and need that face-to-face interaction to thrive!
Know When Remote Work Doesn’t Work
Remote work doesn’t always work. Don’t add remote workers to your company just because it’s trendy or what the cool companies are doing these days. You might be tempted to use remote work just for those reasons but remote work won’t make sense for every company, team, or position and so you should be mindful and aware of how remote work might impact your company or team. If your team relies heavily on face-to-face, in-person communication and collaboration, remote work might not be the most feasible solution. However, with today’s tools and accessibility remote work is becoming an option for more and more companies.
Think remote workers could be a good fit for your company? Looking to hire remote workers? Post a job ad and see who you find, try making remote work an option for current employees, or give remote work a shot yourself. It could be an incredible benefit for your employees and add real value to your organization.