Tue, 21 Jul, 2020
Even before the current social distancing mandates driving the prevalence of remote working, there were many indicators that remote workers were delivering productive output to business owners. In fact, there is conclusive evidence that employees who spend a large part of their working hours outside the office are much happier and more effective.
In building a case for the national broadband network (NBN) in 2010, the Julia Gillard government set a target of 10% of the workforce teleworking half the time. This was up from an estimated 6% of employed Australians having some form of regular teleworking arrangement.
Recent McCrindle research shows that 31% of workers were already working some of the time remotely. 55% of Australians reported being slightly or significantly more productive working from home than in an office environment.. The logic behind this productivity boost is quite straightforward to understand; by giving workers more control over their personal lives and allowing them to plan their lives accordingly, companies are making them happier and more fulfilled as they allow ‘Average Joes’ to become superstars in the workplace.
Throw a wide net
Do not assume that staying local will consequently be safer, more cost-effective, and more fruitful — there are many advantages to embracing remote employees. Perhaps the best person for the job lives in a different geographical zone. If you (or your new employee) don't want to take on the relocation gamble, you should feel comfortable with them working remotely, at least temporarily. In this way, you place the primacy of their capacity above their location. As the hiring manager, your focus may be on whether a candidate has the skill set, the temperament, and the passion needed to be effective.
Conduct video interviews
Think carefully ahead of time about the skills, attributes, and expertise you're seeking in a candidate, and design specific questions to dive deeper into each one. If the same candidate is going to be interviewed by multiple people, make sure you have questions prepared in advance for each one. Assign specific competencies for each interviewer to dig into. Identify soft skills that would be ideal for each interviewer's role and design questions accordingly. Take into account some specific characteristics that are ideal for remote workers, such as bias towards action, ability to prioritise, excellent communication skills, strong work ethics, etc. Consider asking each interviewer to begin or end with a lighthearted question to relax the candidate. After the interview, review the outcome promptly by soliciting feedback or hosting a post-interview debrief.
Use your network
Ask teammates to pass on the word. Employee ambassadors can vouch for your place of work, and culture is a powerful influence. Word of mouth recommendations are gold for individuals with a strong track record of independently working while maintaining strong professional relationships. Encourage your colleagues to share open jobs on social media and recommend people in your network who might be good matches.
Make the most of your employer brand
Quality candidates — wherever they're located — are always hungry for potential employer information. Providing data allows you to distinguish your company from the competition by showcasing your values, corporate culture, and benefits. And it matters every bit as much, if not more, in a less-than-booming economy or in times of uncertainty.
In deciding where to apply for a job, 86% of employees/job seekers are likely to review and rate companies.
Create a great video interview experience
Be ready. To ensure that a virtual interview has all of the formality—even gravity—of an in-person interview, it's important to avoid the temptation of allowing a virtual interview to be as casual as a phone screen.
Here are a few ways of making sure the meeting goes off without a hitch:
- Re-read the job description and CV of the candidate and write down questions.
- Ensure that everyone in the interview loop has accurate information about who will be reporting to the candidate, plus what will be the main job responsibilities.
- Check Glassdoor or Seek Companies for any recent review of your company, especially in the department or about the role for which the candidate is interviewing.
- Make sure everyone in the interview loop clearly understands how they will be expected to submit feedback after the interview.
- Make sure the candidate knows, in advance, the names and roles of the people with whom he or she will interview, so they can come prepared with their own questions.
- Use video conferencing to make sure you have a meaningful, vibrant, and engaging face-to-face interaction.
Crosscheck for alignment of mission and values
Just because someone isn't going to be in-house regularly doesn't mean it isn't important to align with mission and values. Indeed, for a remote employee, it may be even more important to feel a fire lit under them in terms of their commitment to, and passion for, the work. Be sure to screen or align with mission and values before making an offer to a remote candidate. To keep them motivated, even from a distance, be sure they are fired up about the fundamental importance of the work.
Consider benefits for remote workers
For the remote employee, an on-site gym, unlimited snacks, and catered lunch at HQ are meaningless. Instead, consider options such as local gym memberships, access to co-working spaces, unlimited annual leave, professional development programs, and local store discounts.
Remote or not, if what looks like success is unclear, no-one can succeed. Make sure remote staff have explicit instructions and achievable milestones, as well as key performance indicators that guide them as they work from home. Part of what makes a great remote worker is great leadership, so it's up to managers to show direction by giving clear, concise instructions that can be executed even if you're not present to answer questions immediately.
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