Hiring remotely can seem daunting for those who have never done it before, but the modern workforce demands it. As our communities, companies, and team structures evolve, enabled by ever-changing and constantly improving technology, managers must adapt to attract and retain top talent.
Remote work was growing rapidly even before COVID-19, which has only accelerated the global shift to virtual work. Prior to the pandemic, 4.7 million people were already working remotely. Once the coronavirus hit, 88% of businesses around the world sent their workforces online, boosting that number even further.
This article will cover a few tips to help you hire remotely, especially when you’ve never done it before.
1. Embrace the possibilities of remote work
Don’t be afraid of hiring remotely. I used to have to push this point much harder before 2020, because many founders and hiring managers simply weren’t comfortable hiring remotely when the rest of their team was in an office.
Well, the gift of 2020 is no one can say remote work doesn’t “work,” since we’ve all made it work on a global scale for almost a year now.
However, successfully hiring a productive virtual employee means more than just accepting remote work. You should be embracing it, because remote work:
- Expands your talent pool from a geographically limited area to the entire world (with a reliable Internet connection).
- Boosts productivity and eliminates common office distractions.
- Is more affordable, and saves money for both the company and employee.
- Improves employee retention, since workers see it as a huge benefit that many would even take a payroll cut to maintain.
- Makes your company more resilient to unexpected challenges, such as loss of Internet, a building issue, or even a global pandemic
Furthermore, you can turn remote work into a competitive edge. For example, if you want to have 24-hour support, you can hire support agents from around the world on different timezones to ensure someone is online 24/7.
2. Prioritize communication skills
Being able to communicate clearly (particularly written communication) is a key skill in any role, but its importance is amplified when working remotely. Knowing how to get your point across without any verbal cues will save time and avoid mistakes.
A remote worker needs to be able to ask questions, explain tasks, and make updates for the rest of the team, especially if they’re a remote manager in any capacity. This will make the difference between a subject matter expert, like a writer or developer, understanding a request right away, having to go back and forth to clarify a task, or doing the wrong thing completely and wasting time.
A few other key soft skills you should look for when hiring remote include:
- Organization: It’s easy to lose files or forget about minor requests when everything is online. Strong organizational skills help ensure everything is properly documented and nothing slips through the cracks.
- Accountability: Your virtual employee must take responsibility for the successes and failures of their role. You want someone who won’t try to shift the blame, but instead will own their mistakes and then work to fix them.
- Independence: There’s a lot of autonomy when you’re working remotely, so look for someone who excels at self-motivation and problem solving. Remote workers should be able to excel with minimal supervision, while at the same time knowing their limits and when to ask for help or clarification.
3. Do a paid test task
Paid test tasks are a must when hiring remotely. For example, in content that looks like writing an article or editing a webpage. A paid test task will reveal:
- Technical skill - Can they do the job you want them to do?
- Communication - How responsive are they to your questions?
- Self-awareness - Do they ask for help when they need it?
- Attention to detail - Did they follow instructions, or did they overlook things?
- Time management - Were they able to complete the project on schedule? If you didn’t provide a deadline, did they point that out?
4. Document everything they need
It’s your responsibility to equip your remote workers with the tools and information they need to succeed. Compile login information or use a team password manager like Okta to get your remote workers access to all the tools and accounts they need to hit the ground running.
You should also compile company training documentation and any other information a remote worker will need to know for their job. It should be written down or recorded and organized online, like in a Google Drive folder.
Remote employees would also benefit from regular syncs, at least for the first couple of months, where they can ask questions and learn more about their team structure and processes.
5. Set clear, measurable goals
Micromanaging is more difficult and time consuming with remote workers, not to mention it isn’t a great management style anyway.
Set it and forget it is the mantra when it comes to managing a successful remote worker, especially if you’re working with an experienced remote professional. Most remote workers know their own productivity cycles, and are able to organize their schedules to get their work done.
Be sure to set well-defined goals for your virtual employees, which you can measure regularly. Take a macro look at overarching business goals quarterly to see how they did, with micro check-ins between.
Here’s a sample goal tracking schedule:
- Quarterly: Business KPIs, including number of signups and revenue driven from their work.
- Monthly: Team KPIs, such as number of leads (ex. webinar registrants) and completion of projects/initiatives (ex successful execution of an online conference).
- Weekly: Personal goals, such as tasks that would be in a weekly sprint.
- Daily: If you choose to do daily check-ins, look at what they plan to do that day and what was done the day before.
Remote work is here to stay, and that’s a good thing. Use these 5 tips to hire and retain successful virtual team members and help make your company more resilient in the process.