How to Recruit Your First Remote Team

By Eric Gordon

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Studies show that remote workers are happier, healthier and more productive than their office-bound counterparts, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that business owners are looking to tap a wider talent pool of remote workers to fill in certain positions. What many fail to address in that process is that hiring remote workers is different, and you should be looking for totally different qualities.

Here are some things you need to know when recruiting your first team of remote workers.

1. Understand the Unique Traits of a Good Remote Worker

By now, most business owners and hiring managers are familiar with the idea that finding the right fit involves more than just finding an employee with the right skill set. They also need to fit in well with the culture.

But remote workers often do not do well in an office setting, which is why they chose remote work in the first place.

Is there any room for company culture when going full remote?

The short answer is yes.

You need to shift your mindset before going and looking for remote workers - they will be more autonomous, self-starters and often take initiative.

Look for those traits, and you’ll find a great fit.

 

2. Forming a Team - What You Should Know

Social media can offer an excellent platform for finding and recruiting remote talent, but you also want to be careful of using online profiles for screening. Using social media profiles as a screening tool has risen to vogue in the world of HR, but it can be a double-edged sword.

The two important things to keep in mind when using social media data to evaluate candidates include:

  • You could potentially be setting yourself up for a discrimination suit if their profiles contain strong religious or political views or if they are people of colour.
  • Not everyone is as active on social media, so it's important to not become prejudiced against a candidate for simply offering very little personal information online.

 

3. Have a Remote Friendly Interviewing Process

Whether interviewers are aware of it or not, they often subconsciously judge candidates on a number of relatively unimportant criteria, such as the firmness of their handshake or if they interrupt during the interview.

When hiring remote workers, you want to design an interview process that will tell you what you need to know about the candidate, without distracting you with things that aren't actually important.

For instance, if written communication skills are more important than personal appearance, you might want to conduct a text chat first before doing a video interview. If they will be required to spend a certain amount of time in the office, you might want to bring them in for a live interview, but if they will spend little to no time in your office, you might want to actually forego that.

Asking the right questions is always important, so make sure your questions are designed to assess the fit of a remote worker and not an office worker.

 

4. Test the Skills of Your Candidates with a Project

When hiring someone who will work in close quarters with others every day, personality matters. In many, if not most cases, it is often more expedient to hire someone that others enjoy working with but may lack certain skills when hiring an office worker.

With remote workers, however, the opposite is true. An abrasive personality may not be as much of a detriment to a remote worker, but a lack of skill certainly is.

When hiring remote workers, you will want to focus more on testing their skills and their familiarity with the right tools, rather than how well they may work and play with others.

 

5. Onboarding and Mentoring

While there are certainly differences between hiring a remote worker and hiring an office worker, there are some things that are true of both. One of those things is that a strong onboarding and mentoring program can help remote workers get up to speed and feel part of the team more quickly.

One great way to do this is to use a file sharing system like OneDrive to store important SOPs or online training materials that can help them access all the info they need. Not only will this help keep everyone on the same page, but you can also quickly delete out-of-date information and update it with new information so new employees are never working with old information shared by someone else.

 

6. Get Feedback and Refine The Process

Just like everything else in life, assembling a remote team comes with a learning curve and you are going to make mistakes. One of the very best ways to quickly hone your process, however, is to invite feedback and then use that feedback to improve.

Needless to say, getting honest feedback from brand new employees who don't want to lose the job they just worked very hard to get can be difficult, to say the least. Therefore, it is important to find a way to get that feedback in a way that makes them feel safe giving it.

Whether it is an anonymous feedback form or a private conversation that assures them their job will not be in jeopardy for being honest, finding a way to get honest feedback is critical for improvement.

For many hiring managers, learning to assemble a remote team is going to require a paradigm shift. Some of the qualities and characteristics that can make it difficult to work with someone in an office can also be the same qualities that make a stellar remote worker.

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