The mass emptying of offices all over the world has done more than shift a huge section of the labor market to remote work. It has also forced managers and HR departments to dip their toes into the waters of hiring remote employees.
Gone are the days where a clean-cut suit and a strong handshake could make the difference among your ten or so candidates. Now, you’re reaching out to the entire world — which has both advantages and disadvantages.
As we’re still in the early days of online hiring, too many employers are making the mistake of copy-pasting their in-house strategy and expecting it to do the trick for online workers. However, you’re now faced with the double-edged sword of having to look for different profiles while your audience is demanding a new set of working conditions.
But if you’re new to the game, fear not — help is at hand. With just a few changes to your approach and the help of a bunch of online tools, you can quickly adapt and stand out from the crowd.
Below, you can find everything you need to know about hiring remote employees. We cover the personal skills and preparatory work, as well as the tech hacks that will smooth the process for you.
If you’re new to the hiring remote employees game, it’s easy to run a carbon copy of your in-house approach and hope for the best. However, remote workers need a slightly different set of skills if they’re going to be an asset to your team.
For example, it’s easy to manage that innovative mind who has trouble sticking to their task when they’re sitting across the desk from you. On the other hand, remote employees need to be self-starters who you can trust to get the job done in the time allocated.
Check resumes for evidence of prior remote work, freelance positions, or entrepreneurial endeavors. These all point to someone who won’t need to be spoon fed throughout their time with you. At the same time, you don’t want someone who joins the company and seemingly disappears until deadline day. Testimonials from previous bosses (especially remote ones) are a good way of measuring a candidate’s communication skills.
When you’re hiring remote employees in other countries, you’re likely to get more applications than you would for an in-house role. And you know what that means — you need to get organized.
To keep track of all your ads and applications, equip your HR department with tools that specialize in hiring. You should be able to create internal workflows to help you and your team sift through the candidates, including performance ratings and extra comments for each applicant.
With modern software, you’re also looking for communication channels and a database that link up to appointment scheduling. This way, you can directly connect your influx of applications to your calendar and take the stress out of organizing interviews.
Finally, once you’ve nailed your target, you can pass all the information you’ve obtained into your employee directory. From there, your entire team will be able to search for them by name, job title, or department. This not only streamlines your onboarding process, but your remote workers can interact smoothly with each other without the need for a formal presentation.
Unable to undertake onboarding in person, hiring remote employees means you have to plan your process meticulously for it to work. You need to cover more aspects than for in-office counterparts, but that’s not to say it is impossible.
We’d recommend starting with video recordings — a series of instructional videos that cover the company, the department, and your new recruit’s role. To make sure you cover all the company tools, you can set mini tests to prove understanding. Later, you as a manager can go into the shared folder where all tests are saved to check for accuracy and give feedback.
At the start and end of each day, schedule meetings with new hires to go over any issues and to introduce the next steps. If you’re hiring remote employees in other countries, you may have to rearrange your standard meeting times so your time zones overlap, so take that into account at the start of the process.
Finally, don’t forget to make your remote workers feel welcome. It’s a smart idea to hire remote staff in cohorts, even if they’re not in the same department, so they get to know a few friendly faces before they begin. Informal introductions, and quick online games are a great way of breaking the ice and creating that cohesion that is often so hard to achieve in remote teams.
After your onboarding process, include a feedback form so that new recruits can give you their opinion on what worked and what didn’t. With this approach, you’ll be able to refine the process in the future so every hire can hit the ground running.
As we’ve said before, when hiring remote employees, you’re competing with businesses all over the world. The job market has turned upside down, with companies looking for top talent, not workers desperately seeking a job.
Therefore, you have to offer something that stands out from the crowd. The money you save by running a remote office can be reinvested into benefits that attract the best talent which will pay back dividends in the long run.
Ideas for perks for remote workers include:
Mobile and internet plans
Stock options in the company
All office supplies provided
Similarly, as millennials and Gen Z workers make up an ever-increasing portion of the labor market, the importance of offering more than just a salary and some attractive perks has never been greater. Learning and development opportunities are a huge draw for ambitious profiles, so when hiring remote employees, highlight a practical offering of professional development routes and become a magnet for top talent.
To retain that talent, think ahead and plan progression routes through your business. With the difficulties of hiring remote staff, you’ll want to keep hold of the good ones, and providing an internal pathway is your best chance of achieving that.
Be fair and consistent in what you offer. You might have to provide better conditions to employees living in more expensive areas, but creating a vast wage gap will come back to bite you. Instead, set formulaic salary calculators based on location, with negotiation room in each role to reflect experience and suitability for the role.
Just as you would for any recruitment, hiring remote employees requires proof of skills. The difference is that in an office, you can mentor new recruits that perhaps aren’t exactly at the standard you require. When you hire remote staff, you lack the closeness that lets you keep a constant eye on your team. As a result, remote offices need talent that is ready to go from day one.
The best way to get an idea of their skill set is through a test that proves their knowledge in your area. Tests are of course relevant to each industry, but one thing they should have in common is a time element. If you give your candidates a week to do a test that should take one hour, you won’t get a true reflection of how they work under pressure.
Consider including questions asking what they don’t like about a certain app. It’s easy to look up benefits in advance of the test, but annoyances and grievances are only obvious when somebody is very familiar with software.
This isn’t to say you can forget about onboarding. It’s still crucial that your new recruits get up to speed on your tools, processes, and culture. However, if you have someone who already knows their way around the industry, you stand a much better chance of hiring a remote employee who is reliable.
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The interview stage is often little more than a way of gauging if your candidate will be the right fit. Their resume ticks all the right boxes, they’ve aced their hard-skill tests, and you just need to know how well they’ll match your company culture.
When hiring remote employees, checking your candidates’ cultural suitability is perhaps even more important than for in-house recruits. This doesn’t mean you have to fly them halfway round the world for a final interview (although with the costs saved on office space may allow it), but speaking vocally rather than through emails gives you a much better idea of who you’re dealing with.
We would highly recommend doing face-to-face interviews online, using video conferencing software. While recorded answers to questions have their place, nothing beats a live conversation. You get to see their initial reactions to questions, how they handle pressure, and all those instinctive traits that you can’t replicate through a recorded video.
Consider including the following interview questions when hiring remote employees:
How do you stay focused when working from home?
Have you learned any communication hacks for remote work?
What difficulties have you found working remotely?
What is your daily routine when working from home?
To reap the rewards of hiring remote workers, you need to create an environment where they can flex their creative muscles. Remote offices need to be a cut above physical offices with all the tools you'd normally use connected via the cloud.
No guide for how to set up a remote office would be complete without a full set of communications tools and a guide on how to use them. One issue that many managers have to deal with is communication scattered over instant messages, emails, and video calls. Instead, keep all task-related updates and comments on the relevant card in your task management software for full, reliable records.
Collaborative documents are another tool that brings your entire team together. When hiring remote employees, make sure they are fully trained in how to work on the same document simultaneously and aware of handy tricks such as using version histories to retrieve information from old drafts.
Now you’ve got a clear idea of how to hire remote employees, you put yourself in the best position of staying one step ahead of the market. News travels fast when remote workers find a good employer — and even faster when they find a bad one. Therefore, if you garner a reputation as a great remote businesses to work for, you stand a better chance at landing those star candidates.
To get yourself off on the right foot, you first need the right tools. And that’s where Bitrix24 comes in. Not only do you get a dynamic HR hiring system, it is connected to all the tools that work behind the scenes to ensure hiring a remote employee is a piece of cake.
With project workflows, collaborative documents, an employee directory, and video conferencing software, you have a diverse range of tools that are all interconnected so you can concentrate on the human side of things. Not only that, you can also create landing pages for your ads, complete with customized written and video testimonials from your happy team.
So if you’re in the business of hiring remote employees, look no further. Sign up to Bitrix24 today and see how you can streamline your remote recruitment.