Cloud-based tech in the workplace has made it easier than ever for employees to work remotely. As more employees seek remote opportunities, businesses that take advantage of this trend can outsource their work to global experts and reduce their overhead.
If you’re ready to take on remote employees, you can’t rely on old school recruitment strategies and expect to create an amazing virtual team. An outstanding in-office worker may not be cut out for remote work. Hiring the wrong candidate or failing to integrate them compromises productivity and money. Plus, it affects the reliable remote workers you want to retain.
With that said, here are 11 tips for hiring and onboarding superstar employees who will save you the trial and error process:
1. Create Clear Job Descriptions
When creating job posts, describe the nature of remote work positions in detail. Include your expectations and how you intend to track employee work. For example, will you track them by hours worked or per task completed? With descriptions that are highly specific, your job posts will attract the right candidates and discourage the ones unlikely to succeed at your company.
2. Know Where to Look
Cast your net for global talent on specialized websites that serve job seekers in your industry. Don’t waste time and money on generalized job listing websites, because you may not find the level of expertise you’re looking for. You can also use LinkedIn as a search engine to find candidates and reach out to them directly through InMail. Once you’ve found a couple of good candidates, you can use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to find candidates similar to them.
3. Note Soft Skills in the Interview Process
Yes, you need to determine whether a candidate’s skills and experience are a good fit for the position. However, you must also use the interview process to look for signs of a good (or bad) remote employee. Interview candidates either through a conference call or a face-to-face video call. Take note of how quickly they respond and whether they show up to the virtual meeting on time. Get a sense for their computer literacy and communications skills. Remote workers need to be able to communicate effectively and “over-communicate” when using technology, in order to compensate for not being in-person.
4. Ask the Right Questions
During the interview, be sure to discuss the remote aspect of the job and not just the skills or experience required. Ask your candidates why they want to work remotely. If they have a good reason to telecommute, it’s safer to assume they’ll want to succeed in the position. For example, someone who needs to stay at home with their kids or with an aging parent could have more motivation at home than someone who simply wants to skip a daily commute.
Ask your candidates whether they’ve done remote work before and what sort of challenges they came up against. Ask them to describe times they had to take initiative in a remote job position. Finally, ask them what they do to stay motivated. Find out how they plan to manage their time without the social pressure of having peers beside them or a boss looking over their shoulder.
5. Look Up Candidates on LinkedIn
Look up your candidates on LinkedIn to get a feel for their remote work portfolio, skill sets and companies they worked at previously. The way they present themselves on the platform can indicate their level of professionalism and ability to use technology to connect with others.
6. Give Prospective Hires a Paid Test Project
It costs you little overhead to give a prospective hire a paid test project because. You don’t need to get them set up in an office, and they don’t need to relocate. Paid test assignments allow you to judge the quality of their work, witness how they work with your team and get a sense for their work pace. It also grants the candidate a chance to try out the job position to see if it works for them. If it’s not a good fit, chances are they’ll decide not to move forward. Or, you can let them go instead of taking them on full time. If it is a good fit, you have a better chance of retaining that employee because they had a chance to “test” your company as well.
7. Provide Video Training
Don’t make the mistake of giving your virtual team members the same standard onboarding training you give in-house employees. Virtual employees need to orient themselves with the technology, tools and expectations involved in working remotely.
They also need extra engagement to compensate for the lack of an office setting. Let them know how they contribute to the company and show them they’re valued. It’s important your virtual team members feel they’re part of the company in spite of their physical distance.
At the same time, lay down your rules for remote employees so that they understand how you’ll be tracking their progress and what you’re holding them accountable for. Don’t assume your new employees will already know how to use the technology you’re providing them. Include helpful tutorials that can help them use collaboration tools more effectively.
8. Create a Mentoring Program
Remote workers don’t have the luxury of seeing their co-workers at lunch, bumping into them on the way into work or approaching them at their desk across the room. It’s your job to provide your virtual team members the opportunities to engage with each other so that they feel like they’re part of a team. It also helps for them to hear what’s expected of them from their peers and not just their boss.
That’s where a mentoring program comes in. Assign new employees to mentors who can help them throughout the onboarding process and beyond.
New employees may feel more comfortable asking questions to a peer instead of their boss. The more questions they ask, the better they can acclimatize to your company and succeed in their job. A mentorship program builds relationships and helps create a “team” feeling among all members involved. In addition to the training you provide, have mentors also train new remote employees at a peer-to-peer level so they start getting acquainted with the team’s communication methods.
9. Get Feedback from Your New Hires
Once the onboarding process is complete for each new hire, ask them to submit a survey or respond to an email so you can get their feedback about the experience. Use this to improve your onboarding procedure so that new hires can integrate more seamlessly. The more you refine your employee training system with the help of feedback, the better you can set new employees up for success and retain them.
10. Provide Premium Conference Calling Software
When you’ve hired the best and brightest to fill your remote work positions, you don’t want tech problems to sabotage the effort they’re putting into your company. Employees should focus on their work, and not on communication problems, so having a reliable collaboration platform is a must.
Vast Conference is a web-based conference calling software with helpful features for team members like screen sharing and live chat. It has unparalleled network reliability and helps remote workers stay on the same page by providing recordings and transcriptions of conference calls.
Without a professional platform, it’s hard to retain professional workers. Remote work is productive and convenient when employees can get on the phone with their teammates from any device at the touch of a button.
11. Communicate Frequently and Build Community
Help your new recruits feel part of the company by building relationships with them and acknowledging their lives outside the company. Make yourself available through open lines of communication where you can respond quickly. Frequently check in with your remote employees to ask how they’re doing and show them you’re available. Also, provide a chat room for team members to stay in touch with each other without the oversight of managers. This helps make up for the lack of socializing with co-workers in person at an office.
Helping remote employees succeed at your company
At the end of the day, the most important things to keep in mind about remote employees is that they require the same level of engagement and resources available to in-office workers, but they require the right technology to make this possible.
Leveraging virtual employees allows your company to benefit from experts who can take your business to the next level, without the overhead cost of having an in-house team. It can also increase employee retention, as more people in the workforce than ever prefer telecommuting. For it to work, however, you need a clear strategy in place for hiring the right employees and setting them up for long-term success in your company.