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What to Know About Hiring Remote Employees

With some 51% of employees working remotely, remote work is the way of the present, not the future. This means you have to get comfortable finding and hiring remote employees sooner rather than later to maintain a competitive, dynamic, and global team at your organization.

The process of hiring remote employees is, in many ways, similar to that of the traditional hiring process. However, there are key ways it differs, and these differences can significantly impact your ability to find the right candidate and keep them at your organization. To ensure it goes smoothly for you, your candidates, and your future employees, here’s what you need to know about the remote hiring process:

Determine Your Approach to Remote Work

Before you start hiring, make sure you have decided upon your company’s approach to remote work. Do you have a hybrid model, where some individuals work at a physical location and others are remote? Will certain positions be remote, while others are required to be in person? Are you testing the waters for remote work to offer more flexibility to employees? Is your company fully remote already?

No matter the answer, it’s important to make these decisions well before you start recruiting for remote positions. That way, you can convey that information upfront to candidates and they can make a fully informed decision about whether they should apply for that job.

Improve Your Organization’s Visibility Online

Your brand is crucial to remote hiring. Your organization should have a positive reputation that makes it an appealing place to work. Unlike traditional hiring, remote candidates haven’t driven by your offices or seen your business’s ads around town. To learn about your company, they must rely on the information they find online, making it vital for you to have an online presence.

Make sure your company website is up-to-date and that you post regularly on your social media channels. Use these avenues not to advertise your job listings, but to showcase what working at your organization is like. Use your blog, social media posts, employee testimonials, and other forms of content to share your company culture and values with the world.

Make and Share a Compelling Job Listing

With all that in mind, you can start recruiting in earnest. The job posting is, arguably, the most important recruitment tool you have available. You have to make it a great one that encourages candidates to apply. 

As with a job posting for an in-person job, be as descriptive as possible. Discuss the position and its responsibilities, as well as your company as a whole. List the qualifications you’d like candidates to have, but don’t be so overbearing that you discourage potentially great candidates from applying. To compel candidates to apply, you can also touch on the perks and benefits you offer, such as flexible scheduling and paid time off. 

With remote workers, you have a wider talent pool. However, with the influx of remote positions, it can be difficult to reach them. Spend some time advertising your listing on online job boards, including general ones and those specific to your field. You can also turn to social media, professional networks, and other online avenues to get the word out.

List Skills Relevant to Remote Work

In your job posting, look beyond the position at hand and consider the characteristics and qualities that make for a good remote worker. Make it clear, upfront, what skills someone needs to succeed as a remote employee at your company.

Remote work is highly popular, with 65% of employees hoping for full-time remote work in the future. However, remote work can be difficult and it isn’t the best option for everyone, even if they want to work in that environment. Looking for candidates who possess relevant remote work skills — such as being a strong communicator, highly organized, and proactive and self-motivated — can help you identify candidates who are more likely to be a good fit for your organization.

Provide Tests and Assessments

Of course, you still need to assess candidates’ knowledge and technical abilities. Ask candidates to submit their portfolios or any other relevant materials with their application. You can also do an initial screening with a short assessment to get a better idea of their skills, especially as they relate to the stated job history and previous experience in their application.

Once applications begin to come in, you give out longer, more difficult, and more detailed assessments to the most intriguing candidates. You can either have an initial interview and then offer the second assessment, or vice versa, depending on the typical cadence of your hiring process.

This second assessment can build off of the first, test another skill area relevant to the position, or even contribute to a real project your company is working on. If your assessment is a project deliverable or takes a significant amount of time to complete, you should think about providing compensation to the candidates for their time.

Conduct Interviews

Either after or during the assessment process, invite the most promising candidates to interview with you or your hiring manager. Typically, remote interviews aren’t all that different from in-person interviews; they just happen over a video call instead.

In addition to standard interview questions and questions about the position, ask the candidates about remote work. Allow them to tell you about any previous remote work experience they’ve had, challenges they have faced or expect to face, and why they want to work remotely now. 

Remote work requires a significant amount of trust between you and your employees. Be on the lookout for potential warning signs that the candidate may not be ready to work remotely. Hiring is just as much about ruling out candidates who aren’t a good fit as it is finding the right person for the job.

Focus on Onboarding and Training

Once you’ve finished interviews and selected your candidate, it’s time for onboarding. Though it’s always a necessary step in the hiring process, onboarding is even more important for remote employees. After all, your new hire doesn’t have the luxury of being in an office with their coworkers where they can experience the workflow firsthand. Ensure all process documents are available to your employee to refer back to and know who to contact if they have questions.

Further, consider starting the employee’s time at your company with some kind of probationary period or trial run. Ask the employee to work with you for a few weeks, or even months, while you both determine if this is a good fit. This also allows the employee to get hands-on training in their position. At the end of the trial period, you can meet with the employee and either let them go or offer them a full-time position.

Foster Connections Between Employees

As a fully remote hire, your new employee may have a hard time meeting people over emails, instant messages, and video calls. Help them connect with their coworkers. Though your employees don’t necessarily need to become friends, they do need to be able to work together successfully.

Encourage both your new and seasoned employees to reach out and get to know each other. Look for virtual icebreakers and remote team-building activities that your employees can do together (this may even help motivate your more tenured team members, too). It may take time, but with some concentrated effort, your new hire will likely be far more comfortable with the rest of your team.

Concentrate on Retention

You’ve gone through the trouble of finding and bringing on a great remote employee, but your work isn’t done — you have to figure out how to keep them at your company. Offering competitive compensation, vacation and sick leave, and other common benefits is a good start, but you should dig a little deeper to find other perks that make employees happy to stay.

Think about additional perks and benefits, such as:

  • Providing increased schedule flexibility;
  • Offering professional development opportunities;
  • Publicly highlighting your team’s great work;
  • Sending care packages;
  • Paying for remote workers’ equipment.

You know your company best, and what works for other organizations may not be the best option for you. Your employees are your most valuable asset, so try to get creative and think outside of the box when it comes to retention strategies.

Be Mindful of Relevant Laws

Throughout the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding process, be sure to follow all employment laws. With remote employees, you can hire people from all over the world. While this is beneficial, it also means you’ll be subject to the laws and regulations where your employee lives, not just those where your business is located. 

These laws can impact many aspects of your business, including payroll, taxes, and benefits. It can even change your approach to offering and tracking paid time off and overtime hours. Familiarize yourself with any relevant employment laws so you don’t accidentally break any of them.

 

It may take some time to get used to these differences, as well as to find and refine a process that works well for you and your job candidates. Be patient, ask for feedback, and continue to experiment — remote work is here to stay, and the sooner you can make it work for your company, the better.