According to Upwork, 41.8% of the American workforce continues to work remotely. Although an estimated 26.7% will still be working from home through 2021, 36.2 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working remotely by 2025. This is a staggering 87% increase from the number of remote workers before the pandemic.
1. Remote work is here to stay following the pandemic. Companies need to be skilled at hiring remote workers.
2. Look at the facts: A Gartner survey of company leaders found that 80% plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic and 47% will enable employees to work from home full-time.
3. In a PwC survey of 669 CEOs, 78% agree that remote collaboration is here to stay for the long-term.
In a recent FlexJobs survey, 27% of workers say that the ability to work from home is so important that they are willing to take a 10% to 20% pay cut to work remotely. Eighty-one percent (81%) say they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options.
According to the FlexJobs survey, 95% of respondents say that their productivity has been higher or the same working from home, and 51% report being more productive when working remotely.
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Harvard Business Review weighed in on the trend to remote work, calling it “Work from Anywhere” (WFA). HBR acknowledged the benefits to companies, such as in lowering real estate costs for office space. It also acknowledged the following benefits,
“Workers get geographic flexibility (that is, live where they prefer to), eliminate commutes, and report better work/life balance.”
When done internationally, recruiting remote workers can be a crucial component of hiring your global team.
Given that remote work is the “new normal,” is your company proficient at hiring remote workers, whether ordinary employees, managers, or technical specialists? What are the key steps your Human Resources department needs to recruit and hire the best remote workers?
Tips for Hiring Remote Workers
How do you know if the person you are considering is cut out for remote work? Look at the candidate’s skill set.
Flexjobs.com advises that there are a few skills to consider:
- Good time management
- Ability to work alone
- Great organizational skills
- Clear and concise communication
Zapier, the task automation company, is experienced in hiring remote workers worldwide. Zapier advises to look for the following characteristics:
- Someone who is action-oriented
- Who can prioritize
- Who is a skilled writer and can communicate well in a remote team
- Is trustworthy; and
- Has freelance experience.
If a candidate has freelance experience, this demonstrates that he or she is used to working independently and can meet goals and deadlines.
Research has shown that recruiting successfully is tied to employer branding. This is highlighted by a 2017 LinkedIn strategy that found 80% of HR managers believe that employer branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire great talent. Employers find that focusing on the best aspects of their company’s culture and values, and benefits, aids in the branding.
Examine whether your branding reflects the company’s culture in a way that will attract millennials and highly motivated individuals. Does your company talk about a work-life balance and opportunities for growth on your website? Are the benefits clear, and do they include higher-than-average pay?
It is well-known that tech companies are leading the way with innovative perks and advertising them. Beyond the free lunches at Google, consider these options:
- During the summer months, Basecamp, the project management software company, implements four-day workweeks, giving employees a three-day weekend. The founders believe this encourages employees to prioritize and work in a more innovative way, and that having extra time to relax helps them return to work refreshed and more creative.
- Appirio, a technology consulting company based in Indianapolis, implemented a concept known as the “Virtuous Cycle.” It states that a better work environment is created when employees feel empowered and happy. This leads to a better product and more satisfied customers. Approximately 65% of Appirio employees work remotely.
- The company developed its “Worker Experience” model to adapt to a changing workforce. There is no typical 9-to-5 business day for Appirio employees. Workers have the freedom to schedule their days according to their needs.
What leaders seek
Appen also noted that to keep remote teams successful, the company uses:
Many employers look for candidates with sales and marketing experience for remote work because they are used to working independently and, if they are successful, have a strong work ethic. They also look for workers who are focused and will not be distracted by domestic issues. Companies seek candidates who are self-directed, who are adaptable and persistent, and who need minimal supervision.
At the same time, employers want to hire a candidate who has good time-management skills and who has the technical experience to keep up with the tools needed to do the job, or who can adapt to learning new software, if required.
Terry Salo, senior HR consultant, with strategic HR Inc., said,
In short, the best remote workers are tech-savvy and are collaborative.
TeleTech Holdings, which provides consulting and customer service solutions to Fortune 100 companies, takes an analytics-driven approach to hire remote workers. Last year, TeleTech received 125,000 applications for virtual employee positions and employed 12,000 people (95 percent of the available positions are part-time). The company relies heavily on a scientific selection and assessment process that focuses primarily on four characteristics and skills: resilience, self-motivation, time management, and independent decision-making.
Willingness to ask for feedback
In 2010, the test prep company Kaplan shut down almost all of its bricks- and-mortar testing facilities and went 86% virtual.
The one trait Kaplan especially looks for in its remote workers? A willingness to ask for both feedback and help when it is needed. “Someone can’t walk by and see that you’re struggling with something” when working from home, Mari Kent, director of academic operations, said. For this reason, the company seeks employees who willingly “raise their hand and say, ‘I don’t know how to teach this,’ or ‘I’m struggling with this student.’”
Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, co-authors of “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High,” conducted a relevant study. They discovered that 84% of remote workers hide workplace concerns for a few days before informing high-ups, and 47% admitted that they didn’t address issues for more than a week.
As a manager, you can help ensure your remote workers’ success by checking in often and offering feedback on their projects.
Research has shown that remote workers are 3x times as likely to be engaged if they receive feedback from their manager at least a few times per month.
According to a Gallup poll, half of Americans who now work remotely said they want to continue doing so even after restrictions are lifted.
Evaluating your remote workers
After hiring and onboarding remote workers, it is incumbent upon managers to be clear with remote workers about job assignments, deadlines, and goals. The greater the clarity you offer your remote worker, the better his chances for success. Many managers also use frequent check-ins by phone, Skype, or Zoom to ensure that remote workers adapt well to new projects or situations.
Appen states that they keep remote workers engaged by way of “Clear and precise communication, including town hall meetings, fireside chats, e-learning training sessions, and reward programs reinforcing performance.”
American Express evaluates offsite workers in the same ways as onsite workers, using efficiency metrics and taking into account absenteeism and other reliability indicators.
Zapier reported some rituals that aid their remote work’s success: Managers start the week off by having one-on ones with their direct reports. This is the time when direct reports can share their priorities, discuss their needs, and ask for advice. Often, managers use this time to get more personal, too, asking, ‘How are you doing?’
Then, at the end of the week, everyone publishes a Friday update, a weekly internal blog post written by every Zapier employee, outlining what progress was made on the week’s top priorities and sharing what their goal is for the week to come. It’s an easy way to hold people accountable without micromanaging. It also fosters transparency.
Learn more about managing remote worker performance at How to Track Performance in Remote Teams.
Benefits of hiring foreign workers
Since your company is adding new remote workers to your workforce, and the location is not an issue, you might want to think about how to hire a foreign employee. Hiring foreign employees provides a host of benefits for expanding businesses seeking to attract new customers, reduce labor costs, and test new products and services. Your company can enter new international markets, access a larger talent pool, and save on talent costs by hiring overseas.
As you do so, a Global Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can provide your expanding business with many benefits. Instead of setting up a new company in the international area where you are expanding, a Global PEO can serve your needs. With the Global PEO, your remote workers have the choice of going on its payroll. This will save a remote worker, or independent contractor, the trouble of taking care of his taxes and benefits.
A Global PEO can keep your full-time remote workers engaged and satisfied, too. It can use its economies of scale and local market connections to access better insurance and other benefits packages. Global PEOs understand local labor laws, which will also be advantageous to remote workers to ensure they receive all their protections. With local market knowledge, Global PEOs will ensure that remote workers receive a competitive compensation package.
Success stories with remote workers
Now that remote work is the new normal, success stories stand out. Many companies are attributing their fast growth and financial success to hiring remote workers.
Automattic—Automattic is a $1 billion company founded by the people behind WordPress and WooCommerce. The company prides itself on hiring people based on talent instead of a location. Automattic currently has over 715 “Automatticians” working global remote jobs in 61 countries.
Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, believes that allowing and encouraging remote-work arrangements has contributed to much of his company’s success, without hiring in the tech centers of New York and San Francisco.
In an Upwork study, it found that remote working has caused employees to rethink and better accommodate their priorities in life and employers to review operations regarding how they can best work with professionals and create teams. But it also hasn’t been without some downsides, such as blurring the lines between work-life balance and causing increased stress.
Managers need to listen to remote workers who are under a lot of pressure, who cannot manage the boundaries between their professional and personal lives, or who may feel extremely isolated. Consider your employees’ ‘right to disconnect‘. Again, your good communication skills as a manager are essential.
Today, your company needs to hire the best remote workers to stay competitive. As you make this shift, bear in mind that Upwork’s survey of hiring managers found that 32.2% of managers felt that overall productivity had gone up using remote workers. A follow-up survey found that 68% of 1000 hiring managers later in the year said that it was going better than when they first started working remotely.
Your company can take encouragement from the productivity gains you will realize by hiring remote workers, and the way remote work allows workers the freedom to relocate away from expensive real estate areas and how it has opened the door to hybrid teams.
As your business rethinks its recruiting process and focuses on hiring remote workers, you can be optimistic about how remote workers will positively affect your bottom line. You can also look forward to the fact that your workforce of the future will be happier and more successful.