Everything You Need to Know About Hiring Remote Employees

This guide to remote workers will help you figure out how to find and hire the best talent, and then train them, supervise them, and ensure that their productivity matches (or even exceeds!) traditional workers.

Companies hire remote employees for a million different reasons. There is no one-size-fits-all profile of a company that hires remote workers, but here are just a few of the different circumstances that hiring managers find themselves in:

  • Large businesses with a long history of hiring workers who do both on-site and distance work
  • Large businesses who have never hired distance workers before but are starting to consider it
  • Small businesses that are primarily run by distance employees
  • Rural start-ups that need access to an applicant pool that is bigger than their geographic area
  • Companies of all sizes that have hired remote employees but are frustrated by high turnover or poor performance

Whether your situation sounds like one of these circumstances or something else, hiring distance employees is not the same as hiring traditional workers for your on-site team. If you have had any experience with this kind of recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and managing, then you likely already understand this. 

But do you know the best ways to find and hire distance employees? Do you know the best practices for managing remote workers in your specific industry? Do you know how to harness all the benefits of remote work while mitigating some of the common drawbacks? This guide will help you do all of those things and more. 

Guide to Remote Workers - Hiring and Managing for Success

What is a Remote Employee?

There are some misconceptions about what it means to be a remote employee. Lots of people have jobs that allow them to either work from home or do some of their work from a distance. This kind of work is not the same as being a true “remote worker.” 

Generally, a remote worker is a person who works outside of the geographic area of their employer and therefore does all of their work at a completely different location than anyone else in the company. They may work in home offices or in a coworking environment with other independent workers, but they do not go into an office or central location with any regularity. In fact, many remote employees will never meet their colleagues or supervisors face-to-face! 

Related: Is Remote Work the Right Fit for You? 

Benefits & Drawbacks of Hiring Remote Workers

To look at the benefits and drawbacks of remote workers, let’s look at what two groups of people have to say: employers who love hiring remote workers and those who have had negative experiences. These are the real experts--people with experiences, good and bad, in hiring and managing remote employees.

What do remote managers love about their distance employees?

Remote managers report some of the benefits of their distance employees as including:

  • More productive workers
  • Happier, more satisfied workers
  • Access to a larger pool of applicants for every position they hire
  • Reduced office and business costs
  • Improved environmental impact (thanks to the company using less electricity and workers spending less time in their cars)

Common Challenges When Managing Remote Employees - Productivity

What do other remote managers struggle with when it comes to distance employees?

Even with these benefits, some hiring managers have a hard time with their remote team. They worry about things they have seen, such as: 

  • Reduced productivity
  • Higher turnover of employees
  • Difficulty feeling like there is really a “team” 
  • Increased distractions

It is interesting to see that some things show up as both benefits and drawbacks. Some managers report increased productivity when they have a team that works primarily online, yet others see a decrease in productivity. 

This may be partly due to the fact that remote work is still relatively new, and so the process looks very different from company to company. There has been less time for managers to develop best practices for managing their remote teams, leading many companies to feel like they are reinventing the wheel when they start hiring distance employees. 

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Remote Employee Engagement

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Recruiting Top Remote Workers 

Considering everything we have covered so far, you may be asking: what are the ways that I can ensure that my hiring decisions harness the benefits without falling victim to the drawbacks? 

The first step is finding the right remote team members. Anyone who has worked in management knows that every worker has different strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone is cut out for the same job.

Think back through all of the workers you’ve managed in the past, and ask yourself: which ones could work independently, without tons of immediate supervision? Which ones struggled with making their own decisions and self-motivation? That independent worker would probably make a much better remote employee than the indecisive one. 

Finding the right worker is important for any position, but it is especially important when hiring distance workers. Some of the things we recommend when searching for a good match are: 

  1. Make sure you have an excellent job description in your posted advertisements, because a poor description will get you poor applicants.
  2. Before interviewing any applicants, understand what you will and will not expect from your employee. Some applicants may think remote work means working whenever they want and at their own pace, but you may need them to still perform their responsibilities at specific times. Knowing that will help you find someone who really is available when you want them to be. 
  3. Consider what kind of culture you are creating among your distance team. Do you want people who stick to themselves and get their work done, or do you want a team that is social and communicative? There are benefits to both! Make sure you know what you’re looking for. Workplace culture is important for online teams, just like it is for face-to-face workplaces.
  4. Look at tools like Select One’s Jobfit Assessment, which uses both behavioral science and recruiting techniques to ensure that the person you find doesn’t just fill the position, but is also a great fit. 

Related: How to Find the Right Remote Employees for Your Company

Hiring Top Remote Workers

Onboarding & Training Top Remote Workers

Once you have hired an employee, it is time to onboard and train them. When dealing with a team of remote staff, you probably won’t have the opportunity to sit down with your new hires and talk them through everything. 

Instead, your training needs to be done through effective methods for distance workers. This can mean phone calls, video meetings, training through different software programs, and a variety of other methods. 

Our biggest pieces of advice: 

  1. Make your new employee feel welcome, included, and informed. 
  2. Figure out a way to have a good personal connection with your new worker, especially if you are going to be their direct supervisor. If not, be sure to connect them with their supervisor. 
  3. Set expectations early. 
  4. Introduce all of the tools you are going to use, including software, programs, and resources that are specific to your industry. 
  5. Create opportunities for regular check-ins and communication between new and established team members. 

Read Also: Management Tips for Supervisors of Remote Workers

Hiring Productive Remote Workers

5 Characteristics of Productive Remote Workers

Last of all, let’s look at what productive remote workers have in common. In our experience, the best remote workers have the following traits in common: 

  1. They have great organization skills and know how to prioritize their work in order to complete complex tasks. 
  2. They are independent thinkers and work well without close supervision.
  3. They already have some experience with distance work and understand what it means to be a reliable and consistent online or remote employee.
  4. They are comfortable with change and exhibit a lot of flexibility. 
  5. They are great communicators across multiple formats. 

We have found that the best remote workers are the ones who understand that remote work is not an alternative to having a traditional job. Remote work is as real as any office or on-site job, but it requires a much stronger sense of responsibility and commitment!

Read Next: Improving Remote Employee Productivity 

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We used SelectOne to fill key positions on one of Lorraine’s first portfolio companies and we could not be happier with the results or the experience. In addition to providing my firm with highly qualified candidates, all individuals at SelectOne were responsive, professional, sensitive to our needs, and insightful in their analysis of candidates. I highly recommend SelectOne.

Richard Gioia
Principal, Lorraine Capital

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