A guide to sourcing the best professionals for remote work

More and more companies are getting comfortable with remote work.

In 2016, 43 percent of the participants in a Gallup poll said that they spent at least some time working remotely. The survey carried out among 15,000 adults represents a massive shift in employment trends since 2012.

Finding the right professionals for remote work does pose certain challenges. In the absence of face-to-face communication, HR professionals have to become more flexible. Adopting new technologies, interview and communication methods all play a role in discovering the right professionals for the execution of remote tasks.

Know what you’re looking for

Remote work capabilities have become better than ever before. Professionals who carry their work tasks out of the office are now more productive than ever. For your organisation to enjoy these benefits, however, you will need to come up with a list of characteristics that successful candidates must have. Effortless communication is obviously a big essential. Very often, work will be done via email, text messaging and video chat. A good remote worker should know how to utilise these channels for comprehensive, mutually-beneficial interactions.

The ability to work in solitude, organisational skills, multi-tasking, technological adeptness, leadership skills and responsibility will also play a role. It’s a good idea to look for people who already have some experience with remote work. Making the switch from the office to the more flexible remote environment could be a challenge. Thus, an HR professional should make sure that a candidate is comfortable with such a setup.

The right hiring process and evaluation strategy

Monitoring the progress of someone who is in the office will be a much easier task than making sure remote workers are moving forward.

Thus, you need to develop a good hiring process and an evaluation strategy that will reveal as much information as possible.

The evaluation begins as soon as you talk to a candidate for the first time. During this interview, you will get a good idea of their communication skills, promptness, perceptiveness and level of initiative. Such communication, however, is usually not sufficient to help you make up your mind.

Very often, the remote hiring process will involve a test task that candidates will have to perform. Whether the test is assignment writing or developing a website, it will help you find out a lot. For a start, you will know if the candidate has the skills to accomplish the task. In addition, you will gauge their ability to meet deadlines, whether they know how to ask follow-up questions and partner up with others on the execution of the task.

Make sure candidates for the remote position know that a test job will be a part of the hiring process. It is a good idea to pay for this test assignment. The amount will typically be small and it will show that you’re serious about the process.

Define communication, expectations and management

For the remote recruitment process to be a success, you will have to communicate expectations in advance. This way, everybody will be on the same page as far as corporate processes go.

Choose the right tools for communicating with your remote employees, time tracking, project management and work submission. If you don’t have the right software (especially Cloud-based solutions), both hiring and the management of remote work will be a nightmare.

It’s also a good idea to have remote work policies in place. These should outline the frequency of communication, the ways to contact other workers, whether remote employees are expected to come to the office at certain intervals of time and everything else related to accountability.

If you fail to communicate such crucial information, chances are that productivity will decrease and the outcome will be subpar. Even the best of professionals will be incapable of meeting your criteria if they don’t know what your criteria really are.

Candidates should also be familiar with the team

Remote workers have to deal with one serious problem – feeling left out and excluded from the team.

It’s a good idea to acquaint shortlisted candidates with the entire team during the recruitment process. This way, you will establish a community and you will give potential remote employees a glimpse into corporate dynamics, values and beliefs.

Do not underestimate the importance of candidates getting to know the people they will be working with. The importance of this step is even higher for remote workers. Schedule a conference call or, if possible, invite candidates to the office for a quick chat with everyone.

Tailor every step of the process to the needs of your organisation. Remote workers can be an incredible asset, if you have the right criteria and you know how to manage the process from start to finish. Be open to innovations and know that the dynamics will follow a brand new pattern. If you are willing to remain flexible, chances are you’ll soon discover the formula that will yield best results for everyone involved.

Laura Buckler is a freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas.

This article appeared in the June 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

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