Remote Hiring: The Benefits, Challenges Faced, and Hiring Strategy

Studies suggest that remote workers are more productive than office-going employees. This and a couple of other factors have led to more companies hiring outside their HQ, in different parts of the country and all over the globe.

Talent has no boundaries. It has outgrown the shadows cast by traditional hiring techniques to become multicultural, multilingual, multi-functional and ubiquitous. A fair share of the reason behind the transformation goes to how work is conducted in today’s day and age.

With a steady internet connection, a working phone, and a laptop equipped with the necessary tools and software, employees working remotely can just about do the same amount of work (or even more) as they would from an office.

The Benefits of Remote Hiring

It’s not as if remote hiring is new to the industry — it has been around for some time now, and many establishments have had strong networks of telecommuters for years. However, with millennials making up the majority of the global workforce today, many companies now understand that remote hiring is the future of work and that there are a great many benefits to reap if it’s implemented. Let’s take a look at some of the pros.

  • Increased productivity: Remote employees are far away from the distractions present in offices. In their own environments, their mental health and physical wellbeing are much improved thereby boosting productivity. Eliminating a 30-minute office commute or the need to turn up for work when ill can reduce stress and improve overall health. Productivity has direct ties to wellbeing; the better the mental and physical health of employees, the more productive they get.
  • Abundant talent: Smarter the workers, higher is the efficiency. This means more profit for any business. Through remote hiring, recruiters gain access to bigger talent pools from which they can cherry-pick candidates that check all their boxes.
  • Work for everyone: The cost of living today has shot up and will continue to do so in the years to come. This puts the older generation on the verge of retirement at risk as they have limited savings to eke out inflation. For this reason, they prefer extending their service whilst prioritizing health. Remote hiring allows the veterans the opportunity to do just that.
  • More hours: With employees working from different time zones all across the country and from different parts of the world, you’ll essentially be having more daylight to work with without forcing overtime. For instance, even though your office closes at 8 pm in India, your remote workers in Los Angeles can continue working throughout the day.
  • Costs saved: Remote hiring also has plenty of monetary benefits like cutting on expenses like electricity, office space, food, beverages, office supplies, internet connection, equipment and so on. These might seem inconsequential when thought of individually, but when totaled can foot a huge bill. Another important benefit would be saving on the costs associated with traditional hiring methods.

Onboarding, for instance, when done traditionally — in-person at the job site — takes up time and human resources which means more cost to bear for the organization. To optimize this spend, organizations can opt for e-onboarding solutions offered by a staffing agency like BetterPlace. Their onboarding solution is free of human intervention. A new hiree can upload documents on the MyHR app which are auto-verified by artificial intelligence. If everything is in order, an offer letter is rolled out to the candidate on the app with the option to accept or reject. Finally, the candidate who accepts the offer is then inducted by a dedicated account manager.

The Challenges of Remote Hiring

With the wide range of benefits offered by remote hiring, you would think of jumping on the bandwagon. But remote hiring is not all peaches and cream; there are curveballs thrown at recruiters which they must deal with. Questions such as:

  • What’s the best place to find quality candidates?
  • What skills must these candidates possess?
  • What must be done to lure talent?
  • How to create, filter a candidate shortlist and choose one?
  • Is the candidate as good as what his/her CV mentions?
  • How to manage a remote workforce?

To answer these questions, we explore how to hire remote workers below.

The Remote Hiring Strategy

Here’s a 12-step guide to set up a remote hiring strategy.

  1. Be clear about the job description

It’s okay if you don’t know where to start and pick a generic job description template. But that’s where the replication must end.

You need to be clear about the job description when hiring remotely. Understand what you’re looking out for and the key responsibilities a hiree must shoulder for a particular position. Collaboration and communication are of utmost importance here as telecommuters must work together, regardless of their geographical location.

Ask all who will work (directly or indirectly) with this individual to come up with their own job descriptions; areas where they need to collaborate. Once this step is over and you have all the inputs, go through each and build a final job description.

  1. Imagine the ideal candidate

With the job description in order, you must now engage in defining the key skills and traits you’d want in the candidate. Define your candidate persona as you check every box in the job description, and ask yourself how he or she will fit into the company, execute duties, and contribute.

This candidate will be a figment of your imagination, for now, so try to be as precise as possible laying down parameters for educational qualification, work experience, required personality traits, skill sets and so on.

  1. Tell them what you have to offer

Bigger talent pools mean more to choose from. The talent is definitely there, but like you, there are other employers fishing. And the one who has the better bait lures the talent.

The bait here includes certain perks, benefits, work flexibility, allowances, leaves etc., which attracts remote workers.

A point to note: you shouldn’t go overboard and offer things in return for work that doesn’t deserve it — know when to walk away. Set a limit and offer a little wriggle room for negotiations (if possible), but don’t exceed it at all costs.

  1. Your work culture

As the provider of telecommuting, you must establish the ground rules before employees actually begin. You must make clear to them what is expected in terms of work and communication.

You can have an attendance and project management software where timestamps can be entered by the employee for when they’re working, completing tasks, or not working at all. Similarly, they must understand that they are to keep all communication channels open during work hours.

By doing this, you are setting policies in place of what’s acceptable and what’s not before you hire remote employees.

  1. Sell your job

Next, you need to sell your job. This is where your marketing nous has to come into the picture. Let the candidates know that you have an excellent opportunity for them to explore.

But keep in mind that you address the candidates and their needs while advertising the job. Be clear and direct about why you stand head and shoulders above the rest of your competitors. You could highlight your offer, the work culture, and what they stand to gain by choosing you over others.

  1. Market your job

With your advertisement prepped and ready to fire on all cylinders, it’s time you find platforms where you can promote it. There are plenty of platforms where such candidates throng to explore remote job opportunities, such as social media, job boards, employment websites, blogs, and so on.

If you haven’t already, create variations of your job ad. Include it in your newsletter for your subscribers. But also integrate the option to share the advert to those who aren’t subscribed.

This idea of sharing invaluable information on your remote hiring plans brings us to an effective method of getting more leads which is true and tested, but seldom explored — referrals. Call on your friends, family, peers, colleagues, and other remote employees to share and spread your job advertisement and propose candidates who fit the bill. You can incentivize the referral method to further the cause.

  1. Assessing candidates

Candidates have already started applying and you have a good number to start your hiring process.

But how will you choose a handful from the many, and a few from the handful?

As mentioned earlier, the applicant pool for remote hiring can be overwhelming — you need to shrink it. And do it with speed and precision.

This is where you ask a few questions, and include an assignment for them to complete in the application stage. Remember to keep the assignment short and ensure that it sticks to the job roles and responsibilities.

Based on the assignment which the candidates must submit along with their CVs — and supporting paperwork — you can shortlist candidates and set up interviews. This step essentially cuts through the clutter, shrinking the candidate pool to save time and energy.

  1. An audience with the chosen few

Skip the telephonic interview. But if you really don’t want to, you can retain it as Stage-1 of the interview process; the live video — face-to-face (F2F) — being the final stage.

With the interview scheduled, you cannot turn up for the D-Day live feed, unprepared and guns blazing.

Keep a questionnaire ready to test their personality, communication, aptitude, behavior, on-the-job skills and so on. But keep in mind that you must ask the same questions to all candidates and record their answers so that you have solid data and information to go on and not your emotions and gut feeling.

  1. Validate ex-employer testimonials

References not only mean the propagation of your job ad; they also mean people vouching for the potential hiree.

You should not skip out on validating such references, especially if your selected candidate has worked before and has recommendations to show. Follow up with your candidate’s ex-employers and ask questions about his/her scope of work, initiatives, personality, and so on.

This is an important step in hiring a remote worker as references might let you in on any flaws, personal or professional, a candidate might have of which you know nothing about. Hiring anyone with such flaws can result in more problems down the line, so it’s best to find out well in advance so that you can reject the individual and go for another.

  1. Everybody deserves to know

With a candidate selected, you now need to bring an end to your remote hiring process.

Congratulate the chosen candidate and send an offer letter. At the same time, the other candidates who didn’t make the cut must also be informed.

And the reason why you must do this is that if you leave them hanging, you’re not only robbing them of other opportunities elsewhere but also ticking them off which can result in bad reviews online.

Draft personalized mails for the rejected candidates, appreciating their interest and letting them know that you’ll be cheering them on in their future endeavors from the sidelines.

  1. Leverage tools for collaboration

Use tools wherever you can. Especially in your remote hiring process as it allows the rest of your remote workers to understand that you plan to hire or have hired an individual.

Moreover, the information about each employee is right on the software or tool allowing all to collaborate, leave comments, and make informed decisions.

  1. Feel out the chosen one

Handling remote workers is tricky. For a new hire especially, do not tie him or her down to a long-term, permanent contract.

Have a trial period (this must be mentioned in your offer letter) for a few weeks or months which allows them to understand if they can fit right in. This way, even you’ll know if the chosen candidate is the right for your organization.

The probation period will not be the same for all — it will depend on the job role, availability of the candidate, and your needs.

Hiring and managing remote employees must be carefully approached. If not implemented correctly, it can result in huge losses, disrupt workflows, and obliterate productivity.

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