As a society, we are seeing a rise in the number of employees wanting to work remotely. We are also seeing a shortage of top talent in most ‘local’ environments. All of this means that remote working is moving to the mainstream. Long gone are the days when the person who worked from home was the anomaly, more neighbourhoods have people at home during the day with full-time jobs than ever before.
Not everybody is suited for a remote and independent job and we have compiled a few best practices in hiring people who have the potential to thrive in remote work environments. As an employer of choice you want your team to be high performing and one of the keys is putting people in positions where that best allows them for success.
We have all met what I call the two types of horses in the workplace. There are Show Horses and Work Horses. The show horse always puts on a good appearance, does their best work in a meeting environment and ensures everybody knows what they are working on and what they have accomplished. A Work Horse is the one who when you give the project to them you never need to check that it is completed on time, they will come to you with issues that need to be resolved. Their best work is not done in a meeting and they lack political influence as a result. As examples, people are rarely one or the other and great employees need to be a mix of both. For remote workers, we want to see a skew towards the workhorse side. You need somebody who gets work done.
When I am told by one of our team that they do not trust somebody, I have a standard answer that they are either not trusting or the other person is not trustworthy, so that means that one of them needs to move on as we can not have people who are not trustworthy or those who cannot trust others around us. This is the same when hiring for a remote position, you need to be able to trust the person you are hiring right from the start.
Once you have completed the hiring process, watch you do not start implying that you do not trust them. Manage by expectations and outcomes rather than time at work, let your people shine and do their work when and how they are most effective.
I realize we live in the world of emojis, short text messages and memes, however the ability to write and comprehend quickly what one is reading is more important than ever when you are working remotely. In the land of cubicles, you can confirm things through a quick face-to-face chat, a convenience that does not exist in the world of remote work. To be effective a remote worker needs to have an above-average level of competency at both writing and reading comprehension. If this a skill they lack everybody will get quickly frustrated as your established flow of efficient communication will be interrupted by meeting and conference calls. They can still be a great employee, just might need to be in a more verbal work environment.
You will see lots of advice on how remote workers can remain connected to the larger organization, and we need to realize that any social work environment will largely be absent in a remote position. You need to hire people who are comfortable finding social interaction outside of their peers in the work environment.
90% of employee success is hiring the right person for the job, set them up for success by putting them in a position and environment where they will thrive. There is little doubt that coaching and teaching can help employees move up their game, however, they need to be in the right place, to begin with. Employees who have a desire to work remotely want to be successful and as a hiring manager, you have an obligation to set them up for success through ensuring they are right for the environment to begin with.