Hiring remote workers can be a great way to keep overhead low and to increase productivity. However, telecommuting isn’t magic, and it doesn’t shield you from the high costs of making the wrong hiring decision.
Following the five best practices below, however, will help you increase your chances of forming a long and productive relationship with your next hire.
Get Face-to-Face At Least Once
When you’re dealing with remote workers there’s always a temptation to handle everything over e-mail. But e-mail can’t communicate the nuances of a prospect’s personality.
While face-to-face interviews aren’t the be-all and end-all of making good hiring decisions they still help. So make sure you load up your favourite video conferencing software for the interview.
Culture Still Matters
Imagine you’re a fast, furious, nimble company. Priorities change daily. Decisions must be made on the fly. Employees must roll with the punches.
Now imagine offering a job to a highly organised person who likes lists, schedules, and deadlines. The hire might be fantastic at what he or she does, but you’re not going to be happy, and neither will the employee.
Or, to offer another example, imagine placing a task based employee in a company which runs primarily on discussions and relationships. This employee will gnash teeth at the “wasted time” while you feel frustrated over the “antisocial attitude.”
Stop to think about what the day-to-day reality of your company really looks like. Then look for hires who will enjoy that environment and thrive in it.
Reduce or Eliminate Training Time
In an office environment you have the option of skimping on some skills in favor of a good, enthusiastic cultural fit. You always have the option of offering on-the-job training.
This option disappears when you are dealing with remote workers. Remote workers should know 90% of what they need to know before they get started. Everything else should just be “the way we do things.”
Make sure you have a good method for matching skills to roles (like the algorithm-driven methods The Search Party provides). You won’t be there to supervise or catch mistakes. You need to know this person can hit the ground running and make things happen without much handholding.
Check for Readiness
You don’t want to hire a remote worker who has to scramble to get to the library each day because he or she doesn’t have a reliable Internet connection at home. You also don’t want to hire a remote worker who isn’t a self-starter by nature.
Again, there just isn’t any room for handholding or babysitting when telecommuting is involved.
Find out what the employee’s technical set up is. Then find out how he or she organizes and plans a day so that you’ll know how they go about getting things done.
Look for Amazing Communication Skills
You don’t want to assign a project only to feel as though it has disappeared into a black hole. Find out how the employee will keep you updated.
If you have tools in place for updates, like Basecamp, make sure the employee is comfortable using them. You should also make sure the employee understands why it’s so important to use these tools–you have to know what’s going on.
You also want to know the employee is capable of communicating challenges, suggestions, and solutions when necessary. Most of this communication will be written, so look for strong writing skills as well as the confidence such communication demands.
Most companies who choose to offer telecommuting options do have very positive experience, so don’t be afraid to embrace this 21st century working style. Just make sure you’re adjusting your hiring style to match!