Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by freelance content writer Dakota Murphey. Her opinions are her own.
Remote working is more than a trend. It is the future. Thanks to the digital age, the ‘gig economy’, the Internet of Things (a.k.a. IoT) and a drive by Millennials to work with greater flexibility, utilising remote workers is now something businesses are wising up to.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of products and services targeting remote workers. Coworking spaces, software, meet-up groups, work-travel programmes and so on are all targeting this working model.
Importantly, remote working is no longer a perk, it’s a normal part of working life and there’s a global industry supporting it. According to research, more than two-thirds of workers around the globe work remotely at least once a week.
But transitioning to the use of remote workers is no easy feat. Hiring and working with remote teams demands a different set of recruitment skills and unique leadership requirements. While hiring remote workers has many benefits, there are also many hurdles to cross as well.
Here are 8 of the most common mistakes made when recruiting for remote teams.
1. Not meeting your hire in person
The best way to evaluate a hire is by meeting them in person. This may not be possible in all circumstances, especially when your remote team is in a different time zone, but hiring remote workers doesn’t mean a carte blanc switch to remote interviews. Face-to-face meetings when interviewing candidates should always take preference wherever possible.
Why are face-to-face meetings better than video? It’s much easier to read body language and gauge reactions to questions when you can see the whole person. Video conferencing is the next best option and can be a good way of screening candidates to come up with a short list for your final face-to-face meetings.
Appear.in is a great example of a video meeting tool – guests don’t have to register, you just send the candidate the room link to join in. There are lots of other equally good video platforms to choose from, such as Zoom, Adobe Connect and Google Hangouts. Here are some tips for making your video interview a success, regardless of which platform you are using.
2. Scaling back the interview process
There is often a tendency when hiring for remote workers to spend less time interviewing candidates especially when the interview isn’t carried out face-to-face. This is a mistake. The interview process may take a different form using the phone and video conferencing, but the same time and attention should be invested to get the right hire.
3. Too much focus on technical ability
A common mistake when assessing the skills required for remote worker roles is to focus on technical ability and not assess soft skills, when in fact things like communication ability and time management are critical for successful remote working.
Remote workers should naturally be able to learn new skills independently and quickly. Hiring someone with a growth mindset could result in a better hire than someone who ticks more of the technical skill boxes.
4. Underestimating the skills required to work remotely
Remote workers have different attributes and strengths than in-office employees. It is essential to understand this when interviewing remote workers and ask appropriate interview questions.
Remote workers need to demonstrate good organisation skills, exceptional communication and be able to keep a regular schedule. Most importantly, remote workers need to be disciplined self-starters and be task-orientated. They need to be able to take responsibility for their work and not be afraid to ask for help. A lack of previous remote work experience shouldn’t necessarily rule out candidates, but it could be an important consideration.
5. Not having an onboarding process
Even though many businesses hiring for remote teams have the interview process nailed, things often fall down during the onboarding process. Let’s think about what the aim of the onboarding process is for a moment. One of the primary goals of onboarding is to acclimatise a new hire to the business culture and bring them quickly up to speed with regard to professional expectations.
Onboarding isn’t always easy or practical when it comes to remote teams, but it is well worth the bother. Statistics show that 69 per cent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience successful onboarding.
Whenever possible remote workers should be on-site for the first week for introductions and to experience the culture first hand. Onboarding is even more important for remote teams because it is harder to identify the support required and training needs can easily be missed.
6. Too little communication
It’s incredibly easy to become disconnected from remote workers. Communication with remote teams requires considerably more effort than in-house. If there is one thing to focus on with remote teams, it’s definitely fixing any communication problems. Effective communication is an absolute essential for functioning teams and is even more crucial when it comes to hiring remote employees.
Weekly team discussions should be a minimum and will help new remote employees to feel part of the bigger picture. It’s important to get everyone involved in brainstorming new ideas, and create opportunities for giving and receiving feedback.
7. Skimping on training
The success of remote teams relies on continuous training and it is something that often gets shelved once initial job requirements and task management have been relayed.
Training should never be a one-time event; it should be an on-going process. Offer online training and regular video meet-ups, as well as the opportunity to join team training sessions at headquarters once or twice a year. Effective training programmes should include practical demonstrations.
Enlist the help of different colleagues in any remote worker training to help build bonds between remote workers and on-site teams. Engaging remote workers in training will help to ensure they are able to do a great job no matter where they are in the world.
Don’t be tempted to turn a blind eye and skimp on training. It will only alienate your remote employees and won’t help them reach their full potential.
8. Not integrating remote workers with the on-site team
Integrating remote workers into any business is a challenge. Without close proximity, casual conversations and impromptu catch-ups tend not to happen. Using a chat application can help to fill the void and encourage workers wherever they are to engage and build rapport.
Essentially it’s all about changing communication habits to keep teams together.
Hiring remote employees is a compelling solution for any business looking to increase their talent pool and scale without the hassle of finding bigger and better premises. Not only does it offer businesses a global pool of expertise, it opens up opportunities for having a business open 24/7 and it saves money.
Effective interviewing and onboarding are important whether you are hiring for remote workers or traditional on-site employees. But the recruitment process is quite different, as are the skills required by workers to make remote working a success.
Paying close attention to communication skills is critical. Remote workers need to have certain qualities, including discipline, motivation, the ability to work autonomously and be able to reach out and collaborate in a different way.