Hiring remote workers has become a more common practice every year– and for good reason. Studies have found that a happy remote employee is about twice as productive with their time, taking fewer breaks, sick days, and vacation. A remote hire is half as likely to change jobs. And it doesn’t hurt that a remote employee is, on average, $2000 cheaper per year (due to office space savings). It’s no wonder, then, that 43% of the workforce does some work remotely and that number is expected to hit 50% by the end of next year.
Before one dives headfirst into hiring remote workers, they should understand what helps remote employees to succeed. Remote employees have concerns about loneliness, and most employees prefer to split their time working from home and in the workplace. Remote employees value communication, and may require different management practices than onsite employees. Not all of the best practices for remote hiring are obvious, and that makes them worth exploring.
Reasons For Hiring Remote Workers
As we started by saying, there are plenty of benefits to hiring remote workers: Doubled productivity, halved attrition rates, less time off, and obvious savings. Another important benefit is that you won’t be limited by your office’s size or location. If an employee can work from home, that means they don’t need your limited office space, computers, etc. This makes hiring remote workers a far less daunting task, as you won’t need to allocate certain resources for them. Not being constrained by your location also gives you a far more diverse pool of candidates. Not only are there qualified candidates everywhere in the world, but some workers, for one reason or another, can’t or do not want to work in an office setting. Those same people are just as likely to be fantastic employees as anyone else, so they’re a demographic worth exploring.
The autonomy of remote employees is a valuable benefit as well. During the hiring process, remote employees should be vetted for their ability to work well on their own or with less oversight. This ensures they will thrive in a remote work environment. There are important considerations when it comes to managing remote workers, but generally, it requires less time. So not only can remote employees be more productive, loyal, and inexpensive than a purely onsite workforce, they can even require less hands-on management. There are far more reasons to look into hiring remote workers than reasons not to.
As far as downsides go, there aren’t many. There are some things to be cautious about– how to manage and collaborate with a remote employee, for instance– but most of those issues can be resolved by good workflow. The main concerns reported by remote workers themselves are loneliness and communication/collaboration. Communication barriers can be overcome with some planning, and that helps loneliness, but loneliness itself can be hard to combat, especially with fully remote employees. Loneliness is an issue unique to remote employees that employers will have to work to prevent, and that’s the greatest drawback to hiring remote workers.
Considerations For Hiring Remote Workers
Hiring remote workers comes with its own set of concerns and best practices. One of the most obvious is management. Remote communication happens over emails, instant messaging, and phone or video calls, which can take some getting used to for management. There is more than just a concern with succinct or effective communication: Tone is easy to lose in text, and something typed or written can often sound much harsher than intended. On top of all that, if remote workers are in different timezones, working hours may not line up. It’s up to employers to prepare management for new methods of communication, accountability, and team building.
Then, there’s the legal side of things. You have to make sure you’re following the laws of not only where the company is based, but also of where the employee is based. Keeping on top of the legalities of all remote employee locations can get complicated fast when you’re considering minimum wage, hours and overtime, etc. You will also need to consider privacy. Information security is harder to maintain when many workers are outside of a controlled network. From things as simple as logins to as complicated as customer privacy, there are plenty of precautions to take.
And, of course, there’s loneliness. As we said above, most employees don’t prefer to work completely remotely. Establishing the right balance for those employees to be in and out of the office can take some work. And for remote workers without the option to come in, extra consideration must be taken.
What To Offer Remote Workers
The interests of a partially or completely remote employee are going to be different from typical employees. As we said above, the biggest concerns are loneliness and communication/collaboration. One of the most important ways to assuage those concerns is to make clear that your company is transparent and has a strong culture. Transparency and frequent communication via messaging services, workflow tools, and even daily phone/video conferences are crucial to remote employee inclusion. Establishing a clear company culture to potential employees is just as important. Letting them know they’ll be a part of something and giving them an idea of what coworkers will be like goes a long way to preventing loneliness and fostering inclusion.
Another way to make remote workers feel more like co-workers rather than add-ons is access to company resources. Employers should work hard to make as many of their resources digital and universally accessible. Whether that’s access to a word editor or a programming suite, no one should feel underprepared based on location. By that same token, career development opportunities should be just as accessible to remote employees. Having classes available online, streaming meetings and talks, or simply letting remote workers know about new job openings are essential practices.
Lastly, there are benefits. Many companies cut back on benefits and salary for remote workers. As a result, it’s important to let remote workers know that their benefits package isn’t lesser than for onsite workers in the same role. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t customize benefits for remote employees. For instance, consider including a stipend for remote workers to rent office space or pay for drinks while working at cafes. Small but useful considerations like this go a long way to making remote workers feel valued.
Hiring Remote Workers
The process for hiring remote workers won’t be completely different from hiring onsite employees. That said, there are some important process changes in how to advertise and what to look for in a candidate.
Ensuring that your brand is clear in digital communications is an absolute necessity. Make your values and unique attributes stand out. Including employee testimonials builds trust and gives your culture human voice. In your job post, in addition to appealing to the needs described in the previous section, lay out a typical workday. Also, describe the type of employee who succeeds in this workplace. Try to ground the work in practical details. Since office tours may not be possible, this is one of the best and only ways you’ll communicate company culture to potential candidates.
When going about hiring remote workers, the most important thing to analyze is candidate communication. The typical job interview questions may still be useful here, but make sure to ask about necessary skills. Is the candidate self-motivated? Can they problem-solve independently? Do they have the tools and organization to do this job? And can you trust them to communicate well? Pay attention to how quickly, professionally, and successfully the candidate communicates throughout the hiring process. Hiring remote workers means hiring with less information. Paying close attention can give you a glimpse into their future digital communication habits.
Finally, how to advertise to remote workers is another matter. The average remote employee checks multiple websites, so advertising in several places is essential. Freelance marketplaces, for instance, are an excellent resource for some remote work, but often with caveats. Upwork, for instance, is an extremely popular website for hiring remote or part time work. The downside is that it charges 20% commissions on all work. It can often be more valuable to turn to smaller niche sites that specialize in remote work. Find.Jobs is a particularly valuable solution, as it has outreach to a great number of these sites, doesn’t charge for the work, and is very affordable. Finding the right job boards is half the battle. But with everything you’ve learned from this article, you’re already well on your way to hiring remote workers.