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10 Essential Qualities to Spot in Effective Remote Workers

Photo by Giorgio Montersino

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by blogger and freelance writer Sophia Anderson. Her opinions are her own.

What responsibilities do we have as accountable, grown-up human beings? Family comes first, right? Right, unless the job does. Sometimes, you never seem to find the right balance between these two aspects of life. Your home demands a lot, but so does your profession. The solution comes in the form of a simple practice: telecommuting. It’s not something that’s possible for every single position. For some jobs, you just need to move your butt away from that couch.

Nevertheless, telecommuting is a trend we can’t neglect. Any job based on online communication can be done from home (or from anywhere actually!). We’re seeing web designers, photographers, writers, and translators working from their homes. Exclusively. That’s a great thing for organizations, too!

The organizational culture at Dell is based on the connected workplace principle, which is proven to provide better work-life balance for their remote workers. People can do their best work in a way that works best for them.  

Jacob Lee, a recruiting manager from EssaysOnTime, shares his experience with remote employment: “If I had to describe this method with one word, it would be flexible. If you organize your time well, you have space for everything. Yoga in the morning? Done. Making sandwiches for the kids? Sure. Working for five hours straight without being disturbed? That can be done, too. For recruiters, however, there’s a problem: it’s not easy to find people who can organize their time that well. When you manage to build a nice team and you teach them how to be responsible about the job, you’re not gonna miss the daily face-to-face communication with them.

Now we’re getting somewhere. So how do you identify truly committed remote workers? Here are 10 essential qualities to identify during the recruitment process. 

1. Highly driven personality

Only a motivated person can handle the pressure of working from home. You need people who can discipline themselves. Otherwise, you’ll end up with missed deadlines and below-average work (and more than likely a very clean house!).

How do you recognize a highly-driven personality?

  • When you interview people for a remote position, do it via email. Send the messages during working hours (pay attention it’s their working hours if they are positioned in a different time zone). Are they prompt with the responses? Do they clearly convey their ideas?
  • Note their passion. Highly-driven people are clearly passionate about the work they do.
  • Ask about their schedule. Ask how many hours a day they can devote to the work and what volume of tasks they can cover within that timeframe. Ask for a realistic estimation and give them a test period of one week. If they perform well, you can offer a part-time or full-time position.

2. Strong written communication skills

If you’re going to have a long-distance relationship with your workers, you’ll be mostly communicating via email. Let’s face it: you can’t have Skype conferences every single day, simply because you want them to live with flexibility. You don’t want them being bound to 2 hours skyping when they have work to do.

Since you’ll communicate in writing, you need to make sure they understand you. For that purpose, you’ll need to work on your own writing skills. However, you also need people who can respond clearly. This skill is easy to recognize during the hiring process, so pay attention to it.

You’ll be getting emails from remote workers on a daily basis. The last thing you need is one incomprehensive message after another.

3. Independent decision making capacity

Of course you want your workers to follow instructions. You’ll provide clear instructions. Then what? Do you want getting endless messages because the workers aren’t able to make a simple decision by themselves?

Here’s a test for you to make: give the candidates a test job with one link that doesn’t work because you removed one character from it. If some of the candidates are able to find the same source of content online and include it in the way you instructed – those are the ones who have ability for troubleshooting, problem solving, and decision making.

4. Organisational skills

Here’s another test you can give during the hiring process: ask the candidates to complete an extremely urgent task, which is rather large. Give them a deadline that’s shorter than the one you usually give for these kinds of tasks. Instruct them to keep track of the way they spend their time. Some of them will make it.

Ask them to send you a sample of their working day. If you get a clear plan that shows the working progress through stages, that’s your perfect remote worker right there.

5. Ability to prioritise

When you give a few tasks to a remote worker, they have to organize their time and meet the damn deadlines. The problem is: sometimes everything is important. The worker’s child may get sick and, of course, treating them will be a priority. In a situation like that, you need them to stay focused and tell you about their inability to handle the tasks ASAP. They should do everything in their power to cover the gap in work.

Tell your workers that whatever problems they encounter, they can count on you. Ask them to inform you about their inability to cover the work as soon as they find out about it.

6. Attention to detail

This quality is easy to spot. Send a task description that’s extremely long and demanding. If, for example, you’re asking a freelance writer to complete content for the blog, make sure to describe the style you want. Throw in an unusual demand, such as right-aligned images in left-aligned text. Then, pay attention to the way they followed the instructions.

Also, check the way they formatted the document. Don’t instruct them on anything; just note if they make it clean and visually appealing.

7. Accountability

Chances are, you’ll have a request for revisions at one point or another. That’s why you need workers who take responsibility about the quality they deliver. If they don’t meet your expectations, they should stand behind their work and improve it.

8. Reliability

Remote workers should be visible to you. Even if they have an entire month to complete a task, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t respond to your messages and accept an additional urgent task when necessary.

It’s even more important for them to be there for the team. If one of the team members is not able to complete their work for any reason, another team member should step forward and accept the additional payment. Needless to say, you’ll reward them well for being reliable.

9. Tech saviness

Even if you’re not hiring remote workers for web design, you still need them to be sharp and informed when it comes to technology. When hiring someone, make sure they can manage to complete the task without having an IT department right by their side. And make sure they are comfortable using at least a few of the plethora of cloud based communication tools out there.

Ask them to list specific technical skills, such as mastery of HTML, CSS, WordPress, or any other program that’s important for the job. Then, give them a trial task to test those skills.

10. Resourcefulness

You don’t need stiff, rigid remote workers who only stick to what they know. Sure, these people can follow instructions, but they don’t bring a breath of fresh air along with their work. You need people with a passion for learning. They should be motivated to educate themselves and work on their professional development every single day. They don’t have to commute to work, so they have that extra time needed for personal growth.

Why is this important? When you have workers who are constantly learning, it means you have resourceful people. They find creative ways to bring new knowledge into the same old tasks they complete.

Do you think there are other important qualities that a remote worker should possess? Share your wisdom; we all want to get more insights.

Sophia Anderson

Sophia Anderson is a blogger and a freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on writing, careers, and online learning. She believes that constant self-directed learning is the only way to success. Get in touch on Facebook.

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