It is no secret that more and more people are interested in flexible and remote work opportunities. Indeed did research in 2015 and found out that job searches using the term “Remote” had risen 85% in only 2 years. Only one of the reasons why companies should seriously consider looking into telecommuting options for their employees.
However, hiring remote workers is not the same as hiring in-office staff. There are quite a few things you need to consider. Have a look at the following step-by-step guide to get an idea of what your potential remote hiring process could look like.
Why Hire Remote Workers
Just in case you are still not 100% caught on the idea of hiring remote workers, let’s have a look at a few facts.
A survey conducted by CoSo Cloud in 2014 revealed that:
- 77% of employees are more productive when working remotely outside of their office
- 52% are less likely to take time off from work, e.g. when they are sick and
- 45% of the questioned remote workers are getting more sleep
A Stanford University study found similar results. On top of that, they noticed that:
- Telecommuters work on average 9.5% longer than if they would do in an office.
- Remote workers reported increased happiness and engagement and
- 50% lower quitting rates
Plus, as a company, you also have a wider pool of candidates and potential employees when you are open to remote work. People who live miles away suddenly become a realistic option for you.
Not to mention that companies can save operational costs if they don’t have to provide office space, electricity, and such for their employees.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of remote work, check out the linked article.
How To Hire Remote Workers – Step-By-Step
Have a look at the following steps and get some inspiration on how the hiring process for remote workers could look like.
Step 1: Know The Job
Many times it’s startups or entrepreneurs who want to hire remote workers. Naturally, they are looking for employees for newly created positions. The problem with that: If you don’t know exactly what kind of skills and tasks the job involves, it’s going to be very hard to find the right person for it.
A generic job posting might get you a lot of applications but only a specific post will get you the right ones.
So before you start working on your job posting, make sure you know what the position involves. If possible, do the job yourself for a while. Maybe you need new customer support? Sit down and answer emails and calls yourself for a few days or weeks. This will help you a lot in finding the right words when creating a job offer.
Step 2: Post Your Job
Now that you know exactly who you are looking for, start spreading the word. Here are some ideas on how and where you can find great candidates:
- Your own network. Maybe you have worked together with a suitable candidate in the past? Or an old fellow student? Check if there is anyone who might be interested.
- Local Meetups. Sounds strange? Maybe. But basically, it is just a way to broaden your own network. Have a look at pages such as Meetup.com and look for either skill-specific groups or remote work-focused groups, such as London Freelancer & Remote Worker Meetup. The great thing about it, you actually get to know your potential candidates in person.
- LinkedIn. The classic. LinkedIn is a great way to find professionals who are looking for jobs. The good thing: You can see their experiences and skills straight away by checking their profile.
- Facebook groups. I can’t recommend Facebook groups enough. I have found several clients in Facebook groups in the past and even a couple of people who did freelancing jobs for me. You can either have a look around and post your job offer (double-check the group rules!) in generic groups, such as Digital Nomads Around the World, go for job search groups, like Remote Work & Jobs for Digital Nomads, or go for groups that are specific for your job offer, for example, Virtual Assistant Jobs.
- Social Media. Facebook is not the only social media that is great for advertising your job. Share with your followers on Instagram or Twitter that you have an open job position. I’m sure many of them are interested in working with you. After all, they are already following you so they like what you are doing.
- Job boards for remote workers. Online job boards for remote workers have the advantage that there are people around who know what they are getting themselves into. They like the idea of working outside of an office and often enough, they are well experienced with telecommute work. There are many of these websites out there, so here are only a few of my favorites:
If you want to check out more than 45 remote job boards, click on the linked article.
Another way of finding potential employees would surely be general job boards, like Monster and such. But bear in mind that although you have a lot of people viewing your posting, it might not be the right ones. Unless they specifically searched for “Remote Work”, they might only waste your time when you have to explain how the work has to be done.
Step 3: Prepare the Interviews
While potential candidates are applying to your job offer, you can start preparing for the interview. Think about the questions you like to ask and what you want to find out with it. Of course, you will have to look at skills and experience in your specific field of expertise.
Additionally, it can be useful if your candidate is experienced with tools that are used in your company or that are great for remote work in general. For example:
These tools are no rocket science and the right person can easily learn how to use them. But sometimes it can reflect the former remote job experiences.
Apart from that, you need to make sure that your new remote employee has certain characteristics. These might be different from what you normally look for in a candidate because not everyone is good at working from home.
Here is what you should look for:
- The candidate needs to be good at written communication. The communication of remote employees is often done via email or chat. If the applicant doesn’t like to send messages or finds it hard to communicate in a clear or polite way, it might cause difficulties in the future.
- He or she needs to be a great individual worker. Yes, he is going to be part of a team and there are certain ways to integrate remote workers even better. That doesn’t change the fact that he is going to work on his own most of the time. He needs to be able to get the work done without someone supervising and guiding him the entire time.
- The person in question needs to be results-oriented and have a doer-type of personality. There might not always be someone available to ask a question. In these cases, you need to figure it out yourself and find ways to make it work. Be proactive and don’t think in boxes or standardized processes. Remote jobs often require a different approach.
- The candidate needs to be self-motivated. When you work from home and are all alone, it can sometimes be very hard to find enough motivation to get your work done. After all, there are so many potential distractions around. There is no colleague sitting right next to you for motivation. Only if you are motivated enough to do the job, you will be able to deliver results.
- He or she needs to be adaptable. As mentioned before, remote jobs are often positions in a company that are fairly new or rather unusual. In a fast-moving environment, you have to be able to adapt to new situations and tasks quickly.
Another aspect you could look at when you want to hire remote workers is private life. I know, this shouldn’t be any of your business. But when you work from home you don’t have to leave the house every day. Many people get very lonely because of a lack of social interactions.
If your candidate has a family or a hobby he is passionate about or is part of a community in any way, he has a better way to balance work and private life. In the long run, this can have a significant impact on his happiness and thus, on his motivation and work performance.
Something that could also have an impact on the applicants’ future performance (but might not in any case!) is his working environment. Does he have a home office, goes to a coworking space, or likes to work from his comfy bed all day? The latter one might be ok for a while. But many people will suffer from decreased motivation and performance (let alone back pain) when working from bed all day.
The same goes for productivity methods. It can be interesting what the candidate does to motivate himself to get the work done and how he manages to stay productive and focused all day.
Step 4: Video Call Interview
Now that you have a plan for your questions you can sort out the best applications and schedule a video call to interview the candidates. Skype is probably the most popular tool for the call.
When conducting the interview there are several things I would look at besides the conversation itself.
- Is the candidate ok with your suggested technology? Does he have several ways how he can be contacted, e.g. Skype and Google Hangouts?
- Is he flexible with the suggested interview times? If he only has two hours available for you each week, it could mean he doesn’t prioritize the interview high enough.
- Did the candidate double-check the time zone when you agreed on an interview time? That could be a sign that he is experienced with dealing with different time zones and he is thoughtful.
- Did he prepare his laptop/phone and internet connection? Nothing worse than a laptop that runs out of battery halfway through or a terrible WIFI connection. The candidate needs to ensure everything is working smoothly before the interview.
- Does he have a proper profile photo and a professional email address? A bikini photo with sunglasses on and an address like firstname.lastname@example.org is not exactly a signal that he uses these technologies often for business matters.
Bonus: When I applied for freelance jobs, I got great results when I sent a follow-up email after the interview. Saying something like “Thanks for your time. I really enjoyed the interview with you this morning. I hope you consider me for the position. Please don’t hesitate if you have any further questions…”
If an applicant sends something like that after the interview, he definitely gets some brownie points.
Step 5: Team Meeting
This step strongly depends on the nature of the job position. If you are only looking for a freelancer to do a short-term project which he can do mainly by himself, you can obviously skip this one.
If you are looking for a long-term employee who is supposed to be an equal part of the team, it can be helpful to introduce him to the rest of your colleagues or at least the team members who are going to work with him.
Schedule another video call and have your co-workers in the room with you. If the rest of the team consists of remote workers, too, invite them and make a conference call. Let everyone introduce themselves and chat a bit. This has several advantages:
- For one, it raises the community feeling. Your existing team members realize that their opinion is important and valued.
- Two, your colleagues can share their opinions about the candidate with you after the call. If they have to work together with him, it is essential that they get along and respect each other.
- And thirdly, in case you are going to hire this candidate, he already knows the team and the people he is going to work with. That might be an important decision-making criterion for him, too.
As you can see, this step is a nice-to-have one if you have the time and if it is of interest to your team and the open job position.
Step 6: Probation Period or Test
I know you are probably excited that you have found the right person for the job position. But before you sign the contract for the entire project or an open-ended one, do yourself (and the applicant) a favor and run a trial or something like that. Although he or she sounded great on paper and during the video call, the reality could still look different.
For example, I had one case, where I hired a developer who spoke perfect English on the phone. As soon as he signed the contract and started working, he didn’t understand any instructions and wasn’t able to communicate properly. Clearly, it was a different person during the call than who ended up doing the work. Probably a shady agency or something like that. Big hassle, trust me.
Unfortunately, that is one of the downsides of hiring remote workers. You can never be 100% sure who is sitting behind the computer.
The way I do it now is to tell them in advance the entire project but only assign them smaller tasks of it. As soon as I’m happy with their performance, I assign another milestone for the next part of the project.
Obviously, this method won’t work for every type of job or company. But please make sure you don’t sign any long-term or high-volume contracts if you don’t know exactly they are genuine. This is even more important when it comes to hiring remote workers.
If you hire remote workers quite frequently, make sure to document your internal processes properly. This could be escalation processes or the job description itself. If you are hiring customer support, write down the most popular questions they will get from customers and what they should answer.
You could also take screenshots or write FAQs with everything a new employee needs to know. This simplifies the onboarding process and saves you much time, especially, since explaining certain tasks can be even harder over the phone sometimes. Having it all documented helps a lot.
Ready For Your New Remote Employees?
As you can see, some of the steps are quite similar to the hiring process of normal location-bound employees. But there are a few things that are different when it comes to hiring remote workers.
This starts with the places you look for your new employees. Remote job platforms are in most cases better than general job search websites. Social media, like Facebook groups, can often bring out the best candidates.
You need to make sure they have the right personality to telecommute. Candidates need to be great individual workers with a results-driven mentality and a doer attitude. If they are experienced in remote work, even better!
Schedule a video call for your interview. See if the candidate is prepared and familiar with online communications software.
Make sure you start the job with a trial or a probation period. Especially when hiring remote workers, you can never be 100% sure who is sitting behind the computer and what he or she is capable of.
I hope this guide gave you a few inspirations on how your hiring process of remote employees could look like.
Do you have any other tips or experiences when it comes to hiring remote workers? Let me know in the comment section below!