A stunning number of employers worldwide in 2022 – 75% – have reported talent shortages and struggled to hire qualified workers. Hiring is indeed a tricky proposition, and all the more so when it comes to finding high-quality remote workers.
Despite recent tech layoffs and a potential recession, we believe people are still looking to leave their office jobs in droves for work that feels more compelling.
When assessing remote candidates, your top priorities should be their abilities, experience and track record, but you also need to look beyond the resume. When everyone is smartly selected, positioned, and trained, high performance on your remote teams is far more likely. Any misstep along the way, on the other hand, can bring the whole operation crashing down; a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
The first step in finding talented remote workers is to make sure you don’t lose them before you even find them. It’s never been easier to check out a business and examine its history and reputation. Job seekers should be able to learn the purpose and values of your organization before submitting their application.
Your job postings and recruitment efforts need to do the heavy lifting to communicate
who your organization is and why it’s in business, and the type of people who work there. It’s at this step that you need to weed out people who don’t fit with your company, not after an expensive hiring and training period.
Given the ramped-up competition, your internet presence – company website, LinkedIn, etc. – needs to emphasize the possibilities of remote work. The job listing should not only mention remote work but also precisely detail the likely extent of the remote work. Is this a fully remote position, a hybrid job, or a post with merely the possibility of some telecommuting? Being up front and transparent is much better than stretching the truth.
Another key element is to detail the qualities you look for in a strong remote worker. Words such as independent, self-motivated and proactive point toward an ability to be productive and efficient with minimal oversight. Well-suited candidates are unlikely to be deterred by such a description, which may, on the other hand, drive away less worthy applicants before they’ve even applied.
In your search for remote workers, you should look for curiosity, passion, and enthusiasm for life beyond the office. You want someone who embraces and enjoys life, as opposed to someone who expects their job to give their life meaning. These passion pursuers could be surfers, snowboarders, musicians, etc. They might love to travel and dance or volunteer. The subject of their passion is largely irrelevant; what matters is that remote work frees them to live the life they’ve always wanted. This drives them not only to perform well but also to set clear boundaries between work and life, helping them avoid burnout.
In our experience, most workers of this sort consider which steps might be best not merely for a certain project, but also for their colleagues and the company as a whole. Their personal passion gives them a big-picture sensibility. Contrast this with someone consumed with climbing the corporate ladder or who socializes almost exclusively with colleagues. These individuals tend to perform poorly in remote work because they thrive on the office experience. Their obsession might be career advancement or the need to interact with others at work.
Remote workers cannot be the type who need hand-holding. Workers of that type can fritter away much of a day waiting to be told the correct next step rather than being proactive and making an informed decision. Telecommuters must be able to work independently and come up with common-sense, tech-savvy solutions to everyday challenges.
To get a sense of these qualities in a candidate, ask them a question involving a theoretical situation: “Imagine that you’re working remotely, your supervisor is unavailable, and you come upon a roadblock that impedes any further progress on a crucial project with a looming deadline. How do you proceed?”
You could also offer the candidate a chance to highlight their proven problem-solving ability. Ask: “Have you ever overcome a roadblock while working remotely? How did you solve the issue or figure out a work-around, and what lesson did you learn?”
People who are thoughtful, considerate, and observant tend to make for strong remote workers, largely because the social safety net for telecommuters is much less reliable than it is for office-bound workers. Not managed carefully, the isolation of remote work can lead to loneliness, burnout, distrust, and dysfunction, throwing a remote team project into disorder.
When you’re working on a remote team, your only indicator regarding your colleagues’ location, mood, and expectations is their messages, which on some days are all too infrequent. This is why you want people with strong social antennae – people who are able to look beyond their myopic reality, assess the situation from others’ perspective, and empathize. The best remote workers embrace solidarity, are on the lookout for worrying signs, and are confident when they should step in and offer help, an encouraging word, or another gesture of support.
Let’s not forget that this period of remote work was rushed from the start. Many managers and employers didn’t have time to develop or implement remote worker protocols. The key to assessing candidates’ fitness for remote work is determining whether they are invested in it as a style of work and possess key attributes that boost their efficacy as remote workers.
With increased demand for hybrid and fully remote work styles, most firms understand that some form of distance work is here to stay – and have put some remote protocols in place. But are they the right ones?
It’s time to take advantage of the many opportunities remote work presents. Stop saying “we’re not there yet,” and start saying “we’ve arrived!”
This book will show you how.
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