What should you look for in a remote employee now remote working is here to stay? Many employers have now realised that a lot of jobs can be done from home, with no impact on productivity levels.
So as we start to ease back to some kind of normality again, the next role your business needs to fill could be remote: either fully home-based, or mostly remote with occasional on-site meetings. Clearly, successful candidates need the skills and technical abilities to do the work. But to thrive in a virtual environment takes some specific soft skills - and the truth is that not everyone is cut out for, or suits, a fully remote role.
While there’s no such thing as an ‘ideal’ remote employee, here are the questions we think it’s good to consider to find out if a candidate will be a good virtual member of your team - and someone you can trust to get on with the job.
Remote working often means fewer check-ins between employee and manager - and so self-motivation and a sense of purpose are crucial.
Of course, as an employer you’ll make sure that any new starter receives proper onboarding plus has the right tools and support to do their work. But as we’ve seen through our work at HR GO recruiting successful remote employees, the best can manage their own time, getting on with the job without someone looking over their shoulder.
Trust and accountability are important in any manager-employee relationship, but it’s very clear that this is now true especially when it comes to remote working.
Some people need the stimulus of being surrounded by colleagues, and in the formal structure of the workplace environment, to work at their best. And employees who had time in a physical workplace before lockdown will have had a chance to form team relationships that stood them in good stead for the months of solitary home working.
Working remotely means there’s less spontaneous interaction and improvisation with other staff - and although new remote employees might find it harder to form bonds, the most successful ones won’t let that affect the quality of their work.
The search for employees with ‘good communication skills’ often features in job adverts. But for remote workers, it’s even more key. But communicating online is harder than in person. So, new virtual team members must be effective communicators.
Yes, that means replying to messages fully and promptly without needing to be chased for information or updates. But what also counts is the ability to form rapports with colleagues and clients over a screen, and knowing how to project the right body language and the right tone of voice in each professional situation.
Although many people who’ve started working from home since lockdown now say they’d like to continue doing so, don’t assume everyone shares that viewpoint. Some employees feel strongly that they’d like to get back to a physical workplace where they’ll have an easier and more natural team experience (when it’s judged to be safe enough, of course). And working remotely full-time is a different prospect to taking a job where there is the possibility of returning to a physical workplace.
Many job hunters are desperate to find work in this extremely tough employment landscape, and some might be willing to take a job that they know they’re not cut out for - or will enjoy. So it’s worth encouraging honesty about whether in fact being based at home alone is an ideal scenario after all.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that - if it’s logistically possible for your business - remote work is the future to prepare for. And although this new way of working will take some time to get used to, finding team members who can happily thrive remotely is a crucial component to help your organisation keep growing in uncertain times.
At HR GO we’ve recently seen an increase in clients needing to recruit remote employees. Whether you’re recruiting for temporary or permanent help, get in touch for advice on how to find the right home-based staff for your business.