Working from home has never been more widespread. According to a recent study by IWG, a leading flexible workspace provider, 74% of respondents consider flexible working as “the new normal.”
As the modern workplace embraces flexible and remote work arrangements, hiring managers are looking for new candidates to fill remote positions. This means many employers never meet their candidates face-to-face, which has disrupted the traditional screening process for new employees.
Hiring Remote Workers
Hiring candidates for remote or flexible positions is similar to hiring for a traditional, in-office position in many ways. However, there are several strategic and practical considerations before beginning the remote hiring process.
1. Should You Hire Remote Workers?
If your company is considering hiring for remote or flexible positions, examining your current organization’s existing processes is a good place to start. Does your company have the tools, policies, or culture that sets up remote workers for success?
Some questions you may need to ask before hiring remote workers:
- Does your company have a system or software for time-tracking?
- Does your company have practical task management and project management software?
- Do your prospective employees need to handle physical materials or perform physical tasks?
- Can the majority of the position’s tasks be performed digitally?
- Is your company equipped to supply employees with work-from-home equipment that is essential to their jobs?
If you don’t have definitive answers to these questions, it may be a good idea to have a discussion with the leadership at your organization.
2. Setting Up A Work From Home Policy
Successful remote employers begin with a remote work policy. This policy should state requirements, performance, and attendance expectations, with standard procedures to help manage remote or flexible workers. These procedures typically mirror the company’s existing procedure policies and act as a managing roadmap between employee and employer.
Once the policy is in place, take time to consider exactly what type of flexible or remote position you want to offer. Will it be an entirely work from home experience, or a position that allows part-time remote work? Will you offer flexible schedules, or do you need all workers to be working on the same schedule? There are many types of flexible work arrangements to choose from, and some types may fit the needs of your company and employees better than others.
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Best Practice Guidelines For Work From Home Employers
Once you’ve taken on remote or flexible employees, there are several ways to ensure success for your employees. These guidelines will help you implement effective work from home policies:
1. Provide extensive onboarding and training
Once a candidate has been selected, make sure to hold regular onboarding and training sessions that focus on the remote worker policy. This will ensure that the employee understands expectations and is familiar with the way the company handles flexible positions. Ensure that the employee has all required equipment
In order to do any job effectively, employees need to have the tools necessary to complete their work. For remote and flexible workers, this often includes:
- Personal computers at home
- Reliable access to the internet
- Personal landlines
- Additional monitors
- Computer headsets, mice, and keyboards
- Office supplies typically shared in-office
It is up to each company to decide how much of these tools the employee is responsible for. However, these requirements must be discussed at the beginning of any engagement in order to ensure that an individual is qualified for these types of positions.
2. Monitor both authorized and unauthorized work hours
Unlike many traditional work settings, remote workers take more responsibility for time-tracking their work hours. It’s up to the managers to keep an eye on their employees’ hours to ensure their work is done and they aren’t working outside of the agreed-upon work hours.
3. Hold regular evaluations and check ins
Regular evaluations and check-ins are crucial to promoting employee morale and reviewing their work. From regular meetings with a team to bi-weekly one-on-ones, keeping in touch with employees via phone calls, video chats, or emails helps keep employees focused on tasks and inform managers of their day-to-day interactions.
4. Maintain informal interactions
Employees that work remotely may have less interactions with coworkers than they would in an office. To help combat low morale and feelings of exclusion, set up time throughout the day for “water cooler talk.” This can be done through email, video conferencing at lunchtimes, or through company-wide internal messaging systems.
5. Increase technology budget
As technology evolves, working remotely gets easier. In order to support remote and flexible workers who complete their days out of the office, companies should maintain a budget for technology and tools to support any service or equipment employees need to get their job done.
6. Heighten data and personal information security
As more and more employees access company information and data remotely, the risk of having a break in company security increases. Maintaining safety and security of personal and company data and preventing the misuse of company information can be difficult without the right security plans in place.
The Benefits of Working From Home to Employers
Flexible and remote work arrangements have several advantages for both employers and employees. Some of these advantages include:
- Enhanced recruitment opportunities: Hiring workers remotely or on flexible working arrangements provides access to a larger talent pool, allowing workers from across the country to contribute to the company without having to be physically present.
- Wider employee diversity: Just as remote working provides a larger pool of talent to hire, it also supports diversity efforts. Remote work enables teams to collaborate across state lines and even national borders. Technology enables organizations to cast a larger net for talent.
- Increased employee retention: Companies that allow flexible or alternative work arrangements are able to retain employees who may otherwise may no longer be able or desire to work in a traditional work setting. According to Cubix, employees are more likely to stay at a company that offers remote work and flexible schedules.
- Increased productivity: One study conducted by IWG found that 85% of businesses confirmed an increase in productivity once flexible working arrangements were introduced. In fact, 63% of businesses surveyed reported an increase of at least 21%.
- Improved employee morale: Flexible working arrangements are believed to contribute to a healthier work/life balance, allowing employees to take the time they need to focus on personal tasks while working during their most productive times.
- Increased employee engagement: Research conducted by Gallup, a global analytics and consulting firm, has recently shown that remote employees are more likely to be engaged with work than those in office.
- Reduced business costs: With less employees in the office, many companies can save money on real estate costs. Reduced overhead could mean significant savings over time.
- Improved sustainability: As more employees work from home, commutes have been eliminated as a part of the workday. This improves your organization’s sustainability efforts by reducing carbon emissions, while removing the timely, frustrating hassle of commuting for your employees.
- Reduced travel expenses: As remote work grows more common, the use of teleconferencing technology such as Zoom and Skype have reduced the need for excess travel, potentially saving companies thousands in travel costs over time.
- Business continuity during emergencies: As recent events have shown, many businesses are not equipped to handle day-to-day activities during states of emergency that prevent workers from coming to the office. Having a flexible work policy allows workers to continue their daily duties from a location of their choice.
Disadvantages of Working From Home For Employers
While offering flexible work arrangements can bring benefits to employers and employees, working remotely has potential downsides. Some of these downsides include:
- Managing and supervising remotely: Many supervisors and management teams may find it difficult to manage teams of employees without direct supervision. Ensure your organization has the bandwidth and resources necessary to effectively supervise from afar.
- Improperly tracked hours: In addition to a lack of day-to-day supervision, it may be difficult to monitor proper hour and work tracking. This underscores the importance of project and task management systems.
- Security risks: Company and personal information can be more vulnerability as more employees access company data remotely on personal computers and public wifi networks. Make sure your company has policies in place to protect the security of your organization.
- Equipment misuse: Without direct monitoring, employers may see an increase in theft, property damage, or inappropriate usage of company equipment. Talk to your IT department to ensure your employees are using work equipment for work-related purposes. According to Forbes, many companies keeping track of what their employees type, record internet activity, take screenshots, or monitor idle time.
- Potential miscommunication: Many workers familiar with the traditional, in-office work experience may find it difficult to handle all communication through email, internal messaging, and phone calls. The opportunity to read body language in face-to-face conversation is lost and could result in miscommunications.
- Increased feelings of exclusion: Without day-to-day interactions with coworkers, many employees may feel less connected to their team members. They may also miss out on the camaraderie of the office, intellectual conversations, and networking opportunities. As mentioned above, regular formal and informal meetings may reduce these feelings of exclusion.
- Employee distraction: Many employees working from home may find themselves distracted by home life. Working alone may also lead to a lack of focus, and could result in less engagement for some employees. Encourage your remote employees to set goals and establish boundaries to reduce distraction.
- Increased demand to be reachable: With so many technology options available for communication, some employees may find themselves pressured to be available outside of normal work hours, which can lead to undocumented overtime and an unhealthy work-life balance.
- Technology issues: From security breaches to the inability to log into your email, employees face IT issues everyday. Being apart from an IT support team may make it difficult or impossible to receive help when these issues arise. Make sure your IT team has the tools and knowledge necessary to troubleshoot remotely.
- Dated management styles: Employers that are more familiar with traditional, in-office work environments may find it difficult to adapt to new work styles. They may struggle with time-tracking, varying schedules, and a mentality that working from home isn’t “real work.”
Employers should also be aware of potential legal requirements when implementing remote and flexible work options. Some scenarios include state and federal wage and hour laws that require strict hour tracking, workers’ compensation for injuries sustained in the home, and disability accommodation for those looking for work environment alternatives to accommodate their medical needs.
Finding Remote and Flexible Work Candidates
If your company is considering hiring someone for a remote or flexible work position, your first step is to create a clear, concise job description. Although similar to a regular job listing, this description must clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations that relate to working in a non-traditional work environment. This can include information about weekly hours, equipment needed, or level of communication needed per day.
The next step is finding your candidates. While posting a job on traditional job listing channels may bring in candidates from your company’s local area, your offer may be missed by the large demographic of skilled candidates in different regions who are actively looking for remote work. To reach these workers, you may want to consider listing your offer through staffing firms or relevant websites.
Interviewing Remote and Flexible Work Candidates
Every company has its own way to screen prospective employees. While most companies require several meetings between candidates and hiring managers, many individuals looking for remote work may be unable to attend meetings in person.
If this is the case, consider alternative ways to meet with candidates. This could include phone calls, emails, and video conferencing.
What makes a candidate a good remote worker?
Good remote or flexible workers have a combination of hard skills required to fulfill their duties and soft skills that allow them to succeed in a remote position. Some soft skills to look for in candidates include:
- Time management skills
- The ability to work alone
- Organizational skills
- Strong written and spoken communication abilities
In addition to having the right skills, remote workers should also have a successful remote working mindset. They should be self-motivated, results-oriented, autonomous, collaborative, resourceful, a strong problem solver, and tech savvy. Keep these qualities in mind when vetting remote employment candidates.
Furthermore, the right flexible worker doesn’t necessarily need remote work experience. If they’re effective workers, the location in which they work shouldn’t have a huge impact on their performance. In fact, many workers who have never worked from home may find that they work better in a flexible working arrangement.
What kind of questions should you ask?
During the screening process for flexible workers, it’s important to gather information on how a candidate will handle working in an alternative work environment. Be sure to ask some questions regarding the following:
- Concerns regarding working remotely or on a flexible schedule
- Necessary equipment for fulfilling the job’s responsibilities
- The hours the candidate is available to work
- How and why they feel they will be successful at working remotely
- Workspace and tools to support a remote situation
Like most interview questions, these questions will be answered in a variety of ways. Make sure the answers that the candidate provides work well with the way your remote policy is structured. This is also the opportunity to get to know the potential employee, and determine whether or not they will fit with your company’s culture.
Flexible Schedules and Working From Home – The New Normal
Technology, flexible management styles, and workflow strategies have enabled alternative work environments, and these arrangements are here to stay. With 80% of surveyed employees confirming that they would prefer to work from home at least some of the time, we can expect further expansion of remote and flexible employment in the years to come.
At TERRA Staffing Group, we work with diverse businesses around the country to help them with their staffing needs. We align high-quality candidates with open positions so your business can succeed, including candidates for remote and flexible positions. Contact TERRA Staffing Group for staffing solutions that work for your industry.