How to Hire Remote Workers

Just another day at the office. Ever heard that phrase? It’s possible it will be dying out. Many startups are skipping the step of having an office. Why? An office costs money, limits your hiring pool to a single geographic location, creates a consensus environment to work in instead of a personally optimized one, and forces longer commutes on every employee.

Sure, there are good things to be had from an office where all your employees are, but many of these are available through technology now. Close coordination with co-workers can be had with instant messaging tools, or audio and video chat. Sharing information and materials can be handled internally with network shares and externally with cloud based file sharing. Face-to-face meetings can be virtual using video conferencing.

But in the shift from office workers to remote workers, what has to change in your hiring process? What do you look for and how do you find it?

Find Remote Workers

Many recruiting solutions exist now, some specializing in finding remote workers, or letting people who want to work remotely find companies where they can. Use these to find candidates and start your process. Don’t forget about personal referrals. While most of these are more geographically based, people make friends, and keep in touch with old friends who move away, across the country and around the world via the internet now and can funnel these referrals to you.

Decide on the Right Qualities

Determine just what working remotely for your company means. What skills and traits will productive remote workers need? Some fundamental ones are self-direction, good time management, independence, and self-starting. Without an office structure to hold them accountable and to direct their work, they need to be capable of keeping themselves on track each day. A higher level of technical expertise is a benefit. They will be setting up and maintaining their own office in part and need to be comfortable with technology. Communications skills are critical. Both verbal and written skills need to be emphasized, as does responding in a timely manner.

Ask the Right Questions

Your initial contacts may be through email or some other electronic format. Make sure these are read by your candidates. You may want to develop templates for communication, but catchy email subject lines for recruiters can make sure those emails are actually opened. Once you are in contact, you need to be sure you are asking about the right things.

In an initial phone screen you might use these phone interview questions to get a general overview of the candidate, but make sure you craft questions that draw out information about their remote work skills, experience, and qualities. A good candidate will have both prior remote work and prior office work. Offices are still one of the best places to learn collaboration, so make sure if they haven’t worked in an office previously you find out how they learned to work well with others.

Maximize Face-to-Face Contact

As you continue your interview process, work to make it as close to in-person as you can at every stage. Yes, you may have an actual in-person interview late in the process, but video conferencing and other virtual substitutes can be very helpful early on. Do what you can to talk face-to-face with your candidates. The non-verbal clues to their behavior are valuable even when they aren’t in the same room.

Try Trial Projects

It’s critical to determine what skills a candidate has during the interview process, but traditional question and answer interviews can’t always do this. One method is to have candidates actually demonstrate skills. This can be as simple as a salesperson selling you something or a programmer writing a short piece of code. Or it can be as complex as a trial project for your company. Consider giving the candidate a real project to complete over the course of a week. Since this is real work, they would have to be paid, but it can demonstrate their talents as well as their ability to meet deadlines. A long-term freelance project can show if a candidate can handle the work over a longer timespan.

Cultural Fit

Despite the lack of a communal office space, every business does form a company culture. Make sure your remote workers are compatible with that culture before they are hired. One simple metric is “Would I like to have a beer with this person?” If you would not feel comfortable socializing with a candidate, it’s possible they are a poor fit for your company’s culture. But don’t base your entire decision on this. Ask questions about their work ethic and how they achieve work/life balance. Compare their core values to your company’s core values and make sure there are no points of conflict. If you can, have other employees interview them to further assess if they will fit in with the people they will be working with, even if remotely.

Conclusion

Staffing your virtual office with remote workers may seem like a daunting challenge, but the advantages of not having your business tied to one spot on the globe makes it worth it. With proper hiring practices you can now find highly skilled staff from a worldwide pool of applicants. Their time will be maximized as their commutes are cut to a few minutes walking to their home office. And their job satisfaction will stay high as your company doesn’t have to demand they move to a new city to be close to the office. With skilled, efficient, happy employees connected electronically around the world, your business can thrive even without an office.

What factors stand out to you during the hiring process? What traits and characteristics do you look for in a prospective employee? Leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below.

The post How to Hire Remote Workers appeared first on Home Business Magazine.


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