How to Find and Hire Employees Who Can Work Remote!

How to Find and Hire Employees Who Can Work Remote!

by Sara Bennett | May 5, 2020

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Not all employees can do their best work when working remote! 

Recent events, actually requiring employees to work from home,  has  revealed a lot about what it takes to perform effectively in a virtual work setting.    Hiring managers are learning quickly that working remotely isn’t for everyone.   Even employees who have  clamoring for more “work from home” privileges, are acknowledging a steady dose of work from home isn’t their cup of tea. 

The “test period” has been a good one.  Just under 50% of our local workforce is continuing to work remotely…..giving both  employees and supervisors an opportunity to learn a lot about  what it takes to actually operate successfully in a virtual world. 

According to a recent study sponsored by Smartsheet,  many employees, younger employees in particular, are experiencing  some level of discomfort with their new work from home arrangement, reporting that they now feel  “less connected” and “less informed” from their team and the things that most exciting them about work prior to the shut in. 

Apparently while employers are busy learning the techniques in takes to manage remote teams,  employees are starting to ask if a a long term “work from home arrangement” is for them.  On the positive side, the ability to by pass a long commute is a huge benefit for busy employees with family obligations.  But younger employees, who relied on their in office work environment to fuel their social needs, are learning that a steady diet of work form home privileges is not for them.  For sure it requires a new set of soft and hard skills, an awareness that is starting to surface for both employers and employees.     

If you’re one of those employers thinking seriously about making our temporary shut down, permanent, we thought we’d share some things we’ve found about employees who have the talent needed to thrive in virtual work arrangements.

We’ve been finding and vetting employees for remote work settings for a while now – long enough to know there’s some very real personal attributes that make it easier for some employees to work from home more successfully than others.   Knowing that you are going to be hiring more remote workers soon, we’ve added a few ideas for adjusting your  employee selection processes to id those “real deal” virtual workers who are quite different from virtual worker wannabes.

#1 Employees who do well in work from home arrangement tend to be more internally rather than externally motivated. 

Employees who really love the work they do and will do it to the best of their ability regardless of where they work or who is noticing, are great candidates for work from home scenarios. These are employees who don’t need social interaction, they don’t need their work to be noticed, they just like doing it for very internal reasons.   

Being internally motivated actually goes beyond the ability to “self manage”…as an internally motivated people typically don’t need any management.   The employee who simply knows “how to self manage” may turn out to be an employee who is not motivated to do so.   Their job satisfiers come from “being in physical team.”

How to identify candidates who are internally motivated?

Walk thru their work history carefully, paying particular attention to their reasons for taking and leaving jobs. When they changed jobs,  did their reasons include the pursuit of work they knew they would enjoy doing,  or does their job history reveal a continuous search for that  “perfect” job.    

Find out what do they do outside of work?  Do they pursue hobbies or interests that fully engage them?  Are these hobbies and interests they do on their own, or do they need others around them to keep them engaged?  Being self motivated isn’t something that just applies to work…it reveals itself in all aspects of an employee’s life.

How do they describe their “favorite” bosses?    Did they work for a supervisor who left them alone, trusting them to deliver as promised, or were their favorite bosses, supervisors who were more “hands on” – always there to notice their good work! . 

What is their experience working alone?  In situations where they were required to work from home, what were their personal distractions?  How did they handle them?

#2  For most remote jobs, the employee’s ability to organize their work, to create routines for how they schedule their time and work flows, makes a big difference to their productivity!   

While some of the new work from home jobs have the same built in structure they had when working on site, many work from home jobs require employees who know how to create that structure on their own .  

Many employers are finding that the work from home setting makes no difference in personal productivity because the same work flow requirements can be applied to any work setting.  Customer service jobs,  for example, have suffered minimal adjustments in productivity because those jobs can utilize technologies that manage work flows, that track and measure productivity in the same way as was done in an in-office setting.  Call center managers, for example, are reporting high levels of success shifting their agent’s jobs from costly facilities to work from home arrangements.    

If the job you are managing doesn’t have that built in structure,  you need to hire employees who know how to create their  own structure and work routines – to achieve results when nobody’s looking.    

Look for employees who are results rather than task focused.   Ask candidates to describe jobs or work they’ve done that made them the most proud.    If their answer is about work performed, tasks they’ve done, without linking their work or tasks to an end result, you may be talking to someone who will need your help structuring their work day to achieve the result you’re trying to achieve.  

If, on the other hand, they describe a high level result they achieved, or an outcome they’ve produced,  you may have uncovered someone who you can count on to achieve a result, no matter what.      

Ask questions about how a candidate set and adjusted priorities – when they knew it was important to reset and how they communicated that need.   Knowing what work to prioritize, how to move priorities and timelines around while keeping your teammates informed, are some of the important “how tos” of successful work from homers.

 Ask job candidates how they have organized their work in the past – what daily or weekly routines did they create for themselves.   What goals did they set for themselves and how did they track their personal progress?  How did they deal with a customer or a team member working in a different time zone?  Their answers will tell you if they have the habits of success you need in a work from home employee.

#3.  A great remote worker knows how to identify and solve problems independently.    

These are employees who don’t get stuck when things don’t go as planned and will either find a solution on their own or will take the initiative to reach out to a teammate for help or advice.    

Behavioral interview questions are key to identifying good problem solvers.  Ask them to  describe a recent challenge that required them to solve a problem.  How did they know there was a problem?  How did they approach resolution?  Who did they reach out to for help?  How long did it take to solve the problem?  How creative was their solution? 

One of the things we know about effective remote workers is that they are really good at managing their technology tools. Ask candidates how they address routine challenges with their technology tools – their laptop? Their network access?  Internet or app performance?  Do they tend to resolve issues on their own or will they need more technology support than your organization can provide?  

 #4.  Remote workers need to be trustworthy!   

Gaining trust starts with the employer laying out their work from home policies and expectations clearly.   If an employee is required to be in the office 1 -2 days per week (or month) the employee needs to know what you will expect.   If you require them to check in each morning and/or at the end of each day, spell out your regular work routines clearly. 

Trustworthiness isn’t a a quality easy to observe, but you can use the hiring process to assess the candidate’s trustworthiness.  For example, you can have several steps in your hiring process and observe how the employ complies.   For example, if you are hiring someone for a marketing role, you might ask them to check out your website along with 1 or 2 of your competitors.  Ask them to provide you with a quick analysis of how you think your products or services compare and send you a summary of your findings in an end of day email. 

Did they deliver as agreed?  How would you assess the quality of their research?  Throughout the hiring process did a candidate check in as agreed?    Bottom line, are they showing up as someone you can count on to get a job done as expected?  

#5.  The no brainer – hire someone who has already been successful in a remote work setting!          

The obvious truth well known by all recruiters is that the best predictor of an employee’s future performance in a  virtual work setting,  is how they have performed in a virtual work setting in the past.    

In what scenarios as the employee worked in virtual work settings in the past?  Have they been able to work from home even for a few days each month?  What did they learn from their previous virtual work experiences?  What adaptations did they have to make?  What worked?  What didn’t?     

Keep in mind that for many employees, one of the most important BENEFITS of remote work, is having more time to be at home – to attend to family and personal concerns without having to leave their office.  Great remote workers are employees who have the flexibility to adapt to a wide variety of circumstances and still find ways to “do their job”.

Want to learn more about how we’ve been helping employers identify and hire great remote workers?  Check out this video with our Communications Director Sara Bennett and SocialHire’s Tony Restell – Watch Here!

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PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 40 years.

A  4 time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction.

PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

To learn more about how partnering with PACE will make a difference to how you find and hire employees,  contact us at 425-637-3312 or e mail our Partner Solutions  team  at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com.

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