Hiring remote workers has become increasingly popular for many positions, especially computer-based work such as programming or graphic design where it’s not necessary for the employee to be on site to fulfill their job responsibilities. In fact, some candidates now expect that they will allowed to work from home or another location of their choice. Research done by Indeed in 2015 showed that candidate job searches containing the term “Remote” had risen 85% in 2 years.
Allowing employees to work remotely can increase your candidate pool for job openings and reduce overhead expenses. However, hiring remote workers can be difficult for firms that aren’t used to it. Our guide will help you bring on a remote workforce who is just as successful and productive as onsite employees.
Prepare to Hire Remote Workers
Before you start looking for and reaching out to remote candidates, the first thing you should do is get prepared.
Have an Employee Value Proposition that Covers Remote Working
Having an employee value proposition is a part of any sound hiring strategy. An employee value proposition (EVP) is your company’s overall value to current and future employees relative to other employment options they may have. It is a combination of company mission, culture, benefits, and compensation and is usually part of a larger employer branding strategy.
To appeal to remote employees, your EVP should put extra focus on flexibility and helping remote workers feel like part of the team. For remote workers, this is a critical aspect of an EVP and how they will evaluate your company versus other options. Here’s an example EVP from Help Scout, a help desk and email marketing software, whose entire team is free to work remotely. Notice how Help Scout explains that remote employees benefit the company as a whole and permit better work/life balance:
Create a Job Description That Speaks to Remote Workers
A good job description does more than just list the role and candidate requirements you’re looking for. A good job description sells candidates on why your company is a great place that they should want to work at it and speaks in a voice that relays your unique culture.
For remote workers, similar to your EVP, that means an emphasis on flexibility which is usually a key reason they want to work remotely. It’s not just a flexible work location. It’s about having a culture that values productivity over facetime, and a culture that focuses on strong communication and self-motivation.
Promote Your Employer Remote Know-How
In addition to just selling your company, you need to be able to sell your company’s ability to manage remote workers. Remote workers often feel detached and alone. Some companies are better than others at managing remote workers. So you want to be able to give remote candidates confidence that you can manage working with employees remotely successfully.
This could take the form of how many employees work remotely or the processes and tools you use to keep remote workers in the loop. You should make sure you mention this in your job description, EVP, and during the interview.
How To Find Good Remote Candidates
Okay you’re all prepped to find candidates. How do you find good ones? Here are a few tips.
Expand Your Network Beyond Local
For any job opening, you’d want to reach out to your network, including current employee referrals, family and friends, business partners, etc. Employee referrals are the highest quality source for new hires. For onsite job openings, this is usually focused around your geographic area. However, for remote workers, you need to expand your thinking. Candidates around the world are potential employees.
“Remote doesn’t always have to mean strangers. Look to friends and their suggestions for candidates who are not only qualified, but who you can trust.”
—Alexis Chateau, Managing Director, Alexis Chateau PR
Update Your Website & Use Indeed Remote Search
If you post job openings or your website, then you’ll want to update your website when you’re ready to hire for a remote position. If you have an Indeed Careers page, then it will update automatically when you post or pause a job on Indeed.
Use the word “Remote” in your job title and job description, and put “Remote” in the Location field when posting the job. For example, your job title can read, “Marketing Manager – Remote OK.”
Post Openings On Remote-Specific Job Boards
There are a number of sites that focus specifically on remote job opportunities. None have the reach of a site like Indeed, but you may get lucky. If you’re using a talent management system or recruiting software, you can automatically post your job to multiple sites with a single click.
Here are some remote job posting sites you should consider:
Cost: Free if approved, premium placement $199
July 2017 Visits: 2M
FlexJobs focuses on high quality opportunities. It has the highest traffic of any of the sites focused on remote job opportunities.
Cost: $79 for 30 days
July 2017 Visits: 104K
3. We Work Remotely
Cost: $299 for 30 days
September 2017 Visits: 936K
We Work Remotely is a fairly active, straightforward site. It mainly focuses on web-related technical remote positions, especially programming jobs.
4. Working Nomads
Cost: $149 for 1 job, $387 for 3 jobs, $545 for 5 jobs
July 2017 Visits: 146K
Working Nomads has a few thousand jobs across a variety of positions. However, most of the positions are in development and management.
In addition to sites focused just on remote workers, you can also check out freelancing websites as well. These sites also cater to remote work but on a more piecemeal, part time basis. If you’re looking for administrative help, you can check sites that focus on virtual assistants as well.
How To Evaluate Remote Candidates During The Recruiting Process
When evaluating candidates for remote work, there are a few criteria to look for in addition to the normal job qualifications.
They Need To Be Productive At A Distance
When evaluating candidates for remote work, the first thing will be getting confidence that they can be productive working remotely. Do they have a history of working remotely? Are they good at self-motivating and being proactive? Often, folks with a background in startups and freelancers are used to being productive at a distance.
Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, told Harvard Business Review, “We’re especially interested in how well candidates self-motivate, how well they communicate in writing (because most of us work remotely, we rely heavily on instant messaging), and how they deal with mistakes.”
They Need To Be a Great Remote Communicator
In addition to being productively remotely, you’ll need someone who is good at communicating. You won’t be able to chat around the water cooler to get a sense of how they’re doing so communicating well at a distance is critical in order for remote workers to be successful. Do they seem well organized? Can they articulate clearly and concisely? Are the comfortable with modern communication tools like Skype, Slack, or Zoom?
Treat the Interview Just Like Work
During the interview process, you can get a feel for productivity at a distance by assigning them a complex task with a deadline. The complex task will test to see if they can get themselves motivated despite the hard work. The timeline will test for their ability to be proactive and get things done quickly.
Also, you can test for communication skills by making all of your interactions a combination of video conferencing calls and text messages. At Fit Small Business, we’ve successfully hired dozens of remotes by doing video interviews and giving remote candidates a test project to complete during the interview process. The test project closely resembles the kind of work the person would be doing if hired.
“Ask for an interview on Monday. At the interview, surprise
them with a real custom problem that you have right now at your company and ask them to come with a solution by Friday. Pay for that solution and their time. In a week, you will know if that is a good fit for you or not.” —Cristian Rennella, CEO & CoFounder, elMejorTrato
Try Before You Buy
To take evaluation a step further, you can also hire them on a contractor basis for a while. This will let you get a feel for their productivity and communication skills before committing. Mullenweg agrees. “The most significant shift we’ve made is requiring every final candidate to work with us for three to eight weeks on a contract basis. Candidates do real tasks alongside the people they would actually be working with if they had the job.”
How To Manage & Motivate Remote Employees
Once you’ve found your hire having a remote working “operating system” will make things go more smoothly. This includes having both workflow processes and tools.
Have The Tools Needed For Remote Work
Having the right tools is essential to productive remote employees and making them feel like part of the team. They should help emote employees feel in the loop and connected. Here’s a listing of a few tools that might help with remote staff:
Tools for Remote Employees
|Type of Tool||What It’s Used For||Who To Try|
|Communications||Use for periodic video check-ins with remotes. Facilitate one-on-one and group conversations.||Slack, Zoom, Hipchat, Skype, Google Hangouts|
|Document Management & Collaboration||Work on documents remotely but collaboratively. Allow for asynchronous commenting instead of using email.||Google Docs, Microsoft Office|
|Project Management||Track progress of remote worker tasks and help manage prioritization of tasks.||Basecamp, Trello, Asana|
|Performance Management||Provide clear communication of expectations and feedback on progress.||Small Improvements, Cornerstore, Trakstar|
Communicate Clear Expectations
Make sure you make clear what the remote working is supposed to be accomplishing. This could take the form of shared to-do lists, objectives, or work product to be produced.
“My tip for hiring remote workers is to have a clear scope of work with clear deliverables. The less regular contact you have with remote workers, the more difficult it is to judge if they are fulfilling their ‘role,’ so the more you have to judge them by defined results. A scope of work moves everyone’s thinking from positions to projects.” —Robert McGuire, Owner, McGuire Editorial Content Marketing Agency
Have Regular Check-Ins
Establish a schedule of regular check-ins. Here at Fit Small Business, we have a thriving team of remote employees because they meet with their manager in a daily video call. During this call, the employee and their manager cover what work was completed the previous day and the agenda for today.
“The worst possible thing when you’re working from home is that you feel you’re not in the loop. We want everyone else who is remote to feel completely equal.”
—Toni Schneider, Former CEO, Quartz
Use Progress Reports
During your check-ins or through a progress report, track productivity against the list of to-dos that you’ve established for the remote employee. In addition to daily informal assessments, establish a more formal performance management system with quarterly or biannual performance reviews.
Make Remote Workers Feel Like Part of the Team
Besides regular check-ins, make sure there are touch points that are focused on making the remote worker feel like part of the team. This could include social video conference calls, inclusion in team-wide updates, or regular in-person meetups with the larger team. At Fit Small Business, we have a company-wide video meeting every Friday where everyone shares what they accomplished that week. Remote employees often says that this motivates them, helps them connect with other employees, and makes them feel like a part of the team.
“What sets our business apart and what we find extremely important is that even though we have babysitters throughout most major cities who do not report daily to the office, we meet everyone personally and host get togethers so that we can build a strong team.” —Rachel Charlupski, Founder, The Babysitting Company
Establish A Buddy System
Another good remote workflow is creating a buddy system. Assign one peer, aside from the employee’s manager, to be a buddy. This will allow the remote worker to ask questions and get timely feedback on their work from peers. It’s less formal than interactions with a manager. Remote workers generally feel more comfortable asking newbie questions to a peer as opposed to a manager.
Get Feedback from Remotes
Regularly solicit feedback from remote workers to make sure they have what they need to be productive and feel like part of the team.
“I want remote workers who are able to use my feedback to strengthen their craft. Remote workers who can’t accept criticism can’t thrive.”
—Dmitry Ozik, Co-founder, HighYa
Should I Hire Remote Workers?
Hiring remote workers can open up the number of available job candidates and create more satisfied employees, but it’s not for everyone. Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if remote workers is right for your business:
Pros & Cons Of Hiring Remote Employees
Leveraging remote workers can be a great way to attract more qualified candidates while reducing overhead costs at the same time. However, hiring and managing remote workers successfully requires you to have the appropriate hiring and workflow processes and tools in place. If you do this, you can, like we’ve done at Fit Small Business, build a highly productive, global workforce.