We live in a technology-driven world. With the advance of technology, we now have the ability to work with anyone, anywhere in the world. Between online courses, workers taking remote years and younger generations constantly on the move, it can be difficult to find the perfect candidate or employee locally. More and more companies are considering remote employees, and more and more employees are requesting the opportunity to work remotely.
WHY HIRE REMOTE EMPLOYEES?
When I made the choice to move to a new city, I said over and over again, “I don’t want to work remotely.” I need to come into the office; I need both the professional collaboration and the social interaction that the office provides. In a new city, I want to be able to meet people through work and have the opportunity to get out and explore my new home.
That all changed when a tangible opportunity to work remotely presented itself. I decided to take a huge leap and do what I said I did not want to do: work remotely. And you know what? It has been a huge success! (For me.)
Working remotely is not for everyone, and before hiring remote employees, it is important to consider many factors. Younger generations have been raised and educated through the internet. From fostering close, long-distance relationships through facetime and social media, to online classes, an entire age group of our population knows how to successfully communicate online. Building relationships and learning through a screen is second nature and (quite frankly) expected.
But every person is unique and every company has their custom needs. What are the factors to take into account when considering remote employees?
First, the person. Is this someone who can be successful outside the office environment? Can you trust that person to maintain the level of output that you expect? If this is a new hire you may need to rely heavily on references and past accomplishments. If it is a current employee who is requesting a remote role, consider what you know about this person and if their current performance inspires the confidence to be a remote employee.
Second, the role. Not every role is conducive to a remote position. HR, for example is a department that makes sense to have on site. Accounting or IT, for example, may not require in-person daily meetings.
Third, the client. If your work is client-based and if a client needs face time with your remote employees, will their location(s) allow this? In my particular role, I am located near the client and my day-to-day client interactions are with people all over the country. This means that it does not matter where I sit – the way I communicate to the client would be the same regardless of whether I sit with my co-workers or not.
IF YOU DO CHOOSE TO EMPLOY A REMOTE WORKER WHAT ARE THE TOOLS THAT WILL MAKE HE OR SHE (AND YOUR COMPANY) SUCCESSFUL?
Technology, as always, offers many solutions. There are many ways to maintain success and collaboration with remote employees.
Your standard communication options such as phone and email will of course be key! But also consider the benefit of an IM tool such as Slack or Google Chat.
Video conferencing is a great way to get face time. “Out of sight, out of mind” can certainly be true with remote workers. A great way to tackle this problem is to implement video conferencing. Not every meeting or phone call has to have a video component, but offering the opportunity to actually talk to your employees “face to face” is one way to ensure they are still seen (literally) and heard.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOUR REMOTE EMPLOYEE FEELS LIKE PART OF THE TEAM?
If you have a fleshed-out onboarding process, make sure your new remote employees get the full experience. Bring them to your local or head office to meet their co-workers in person. Give them the opportunity to bond with their team and learn about the company as you would any new employee.
Schedule quarterly (or more often if you can) trips to the main office. The occasional week in the office goes a long way to foster engagement and inspire energy for your remote employees.
Build a growth plan for your remote employee and consider the path for advancement for them. Regardless of whether someone is remote, your employees still want to grow and evolve. Set goals for your remote employee and help them fulfill those goals the same as you would any other employee. Remote employees can be successful managers and directors; they just need to prove themselves the same as everyone else.
WORKING REMOTELY AND WORKING FROM HOME ARE NOT THE SAME.
Working from home means that you are actively making a choice to stay home vs. going into the office. Working remotely means that you are a satellite office, and you do not have the option to commute to the office daily. It is more challenging to be 100% remote because you don’t have the option to come in. When that option is not available, one must put in even more effort to be visible for your employees.
An argument can certainly be made for working from home, whether because of commute or family obligations. But when given the option, come in, show your face and collaborate with your co-workers. Build off their energy.
The truth is that the world is not black and white, and there is no “one size fits all” approach for every company and every person. Remote workers can be successful. Having employees from different areas, backgrounds and experiences can be the key to building a diverse and innovative workforce.
Ensure your remote employees are just as important and productive as your in-office employees. Hold them to the same standards. Make them feel like part of the team.
Do what works for your company and your team! Are you working with any remote employees? Share your tips in the comments!