Skills to Look for When Hiring a Remote Workforce

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Recruiters are no strangers to hiring remote employees nowadays. With technological improvements made every day, working from home is becoming easier as we speak. Having a remote workforce can be very beneficial for a company, as it not only reduces costs, but it has also been proven that it can even increase employee productivity.

However, not all good employees are actually great when it comes to working from home; there are some qualities to keep in mind when recruiting, interviewing, and hiring a remote workforce. Moreover, employees are not the only ones that need to count on a set of special skills, managers are also required to have qualities that will allow them to efficiently supervise and measure their remote staff’s productivity. But for now, we’ll focus on the skills you need to be on the lookout for when recruiting remote employees:

Efficient Time Management: This is probably the most important asset a remote worker needs to have. If the candidate isn’t able to manage their time efficiently and doesn’t meet deadlines, they are not made to work from home, or at least for you. Since they’re not being constantly supervised, these employees need to have very specific deadlines for each project in order to accomplish their objectives. But how can you know if a person can actually manage their time well enough to be hired to work remotely? What should you look for when interviewing them?

Take note of how much time it takes them to respond to an email or any kind of communication; test their abilities by sending them a trial assignment with a strict deadline; or give them a hypothetical problem and see how much time it takes for them to come up with a solution. Of course, the real test will come when you actually hire them and see them in action. In this case, the best thing to do is give them a probationary period before hiring them permanently. That way, you can see what they’re really made of. Keep in mind that a time tracking software can also help you make sure the work is being done.

Excellent Communication Skills: If communication is key in a normal office environment, imagine its importance when it comes to a remote workforce. People who work from home are used to asking their supervisors for information when needed, especially when there’s a tight deadline involved. However, they’re not surrounded by coworkers that might be sharing crucial information about the project, so this is where supervisors need to do their part as well.

Remote workers need to show enthusiasm and interest, making their best effort to be informed and on top of things. Communication skills can be put to the test in person, by email, by phone, by IM, or all four. Were they able to easily express their ideas? Make sure you evaluate the candidate thoroughly before making your decision.

Discipline and Self-Motivation: A good remote worker needs to be capable of getting the job done without being constantly reminded to do so. They need to initiate almost every action, set and accomplish their goals, and be able to anticipate their employer’s needs. That’s what makes a remote worker great. Either when it comes to finding a solution on their own or coming up with original ideas, being creative is also a very important skill remote workers should always demonstrate. The trial assignment will give you a better idea of how candidates manage a project on their own. If they have no problem with the deadline or with coming up with solutions fast and with very little help, you’ve hit the remote jackpot!

Remote Work vs. Flexibility

If you’re still not convinced a remote workforce is the best option for you, there are other options to keep in mind for your current employees. Offering flexibility to your staff by establishing a work-from-home program will not only greatly benefit the company—we’re talking big bucks here—but it will also make your employees very happy, so they will be less likely to quit.

Some of the benefits of offering a work-from-home program to your employees include:

• Being able to save money in office space, office supplies, snacks, etc.
• An increase in retention rates.
• Hiring gets easier when you offer flexible hours or telecommuting options.
• Employees appreciate the opportunity so much they will be more loyal to the company.
• Getting free advertisement from your employees since they will probably be telling everyone about how amazing their company is—or, as the HR world likes to call it, “employee advocacy”.

Need I say more? To put everything in numbers and give a clearer idea of what you could accomplish by allowing your employees to work from home once or twice a week, a study carried out by Stanford University found that employees were 13% more productive when working from home, attrition went down by 50%, and approximately $2,000 per year per employee were saved.

So, whether you’re an SMB ready to take advantage of all the benefits having a remote workforce has, or if you just want to start working your way up with a simple flexible schedule for your current employees, give working from home a chance and you’ll definitely see the results in no time.

Vanessa Fardi
Digital Copy Editor