4 Strategies for Hiring, Training and Retaining the Best Remote Workers
woman working remotely

4 Strategies for Hiring, Training and Retaining the Best Remote Workers

A few weeks ago, tech giant IBM was in the news for pulling the plug on its work-from-home policy and ordering its US marketing staff to either work from one of their six regional offices in the US or leave!

Then in a blog post the Big Blue, rather ironically, tried to sell its customers on the benefits of remote working, saying remote workers are “highly engaged, more likely to consider their workplaces as innovative, happier about their job prospects and less stressed than their more traditional, office-bound colleagues.”

While this may come across as ironic or even outrightly hypocritical, IBM’s validation of the upsides of remote working despite forcing its own employees back to the office only serves to confirm what industry players already know: remote working has come to stay and more companies are letting their staff work out of office.

Working remotely or telecommuting has plenty upsides

Consider the following stats:

But it’s not all rosy

Telecommuting evidently has many upsides, yet companies still worry. For many employers, finding the right talent, training them and generally creating a suitable work culture that makes them want to stay is a challenge.

Michele Rowan, the founder of Customer Contact Strategies, found that businesses seeking to succeed with telecommuting must overcome two major challenges: poor job matching, and training and performance challenges.

In surveying remote workers in 60 different companies drawn from different industries, she found that 62% left their job because of the former, while 58% left due to training and performance issues.

It goes without saying that companies that are able to cross these hurdles will do just fine with telecommuting. But how?

1. Go beyond job skills, look out for personal qualities and telecommuting experience

Hiring for a remote position is quite different from trying to fill a role at your company’s HQ office.

To get the perfect fit, go beyond the resume and look out for specific qualities in the candidate. Such qualities as being collaborative, self-starting and independent are important skills for a remote worker. Glassdoor’s eBook on how to conduct great interviews that test for specific aptitudes provides easy-to-use Behavioral Interviewing Questions and Templates.

Employers must also ensure that remote work applicants have previous telecommuting experience as someone with no prior experience might find it challenging working on their own, away from their colleagues.

Employers should also assign tests projects to get an idea of how well the candidate will fare in this role and how they are able to meet deadlines. You should also look out for their communication skills and how they are able to carry you along in the course of the project.

2. Get a face-to-face interview with candidates

Just as in a conventional job screening process, in-person interviews help employers find out a great deal about candidates; their backgrounds, job skills, personal work style, and how they generally qualify for the role.

However, except in rare cases, employers trying to fill remote positions typically don’t get the luxury of having in-person interviews with candidates. But not to worry, there are a number of tools in the market that they can use to get face-to-face time with potential hires.

Such free tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Join.me and paid ones like Clickmeeting and GoToMeeting are great for video interviews, onboarding new hires and more.

3. Take them through a proper onboarding process

Now that you’ve succeeded in hiring a good fit, taking them through a proper onboarding process is key to helping your new remote employee familiarize themselves with the people and processes in your company and hit the ground running.

Resist the temptation to hurry them through the process or not even conduct it at all because they won’t be working in the office.

As part of the onboarding process, have a face-to-face meeting or a conference video call with the new hire, introduce them to co-employees and provide them with all the necessary tools to do their jobs. By doing these, you will be helping them bond with their new employees and also learn (and immerse themselves in) your company culture.

In addition, to address any potential security risk, ensure all the tools and devices assigned to your new remote employee are secure with up-to-date security software and encryption. Also, remind them of the need to handle all company’s information with care.

Related: The Guide to Building Employee Engagement Programs with Remote Teams

4. Train employees, track progress and review honest feedbacks

Training remote employees is a major challenge for many businesses. Because remote workers are not physically present in the office (to undergo training), companies must, therefore, invest in virtual classes to cater to them.

An effective way to go about this is by using webinars to train employees. Today, there are a number of easy-to-use software solutions in the market that let you upload and share training materials, share your computer screen, organize question and answer sessions, run collaborative exercises, run tests and also track progress.

To get the best out of these trainings, employers must consistently seek honest feedback from remote workers as this will help them make necessary adjustments to improve the overall learning process of the employee and ultimately help them grow.

Wrapping up

There is a clear indication that working remotely is an increasingly popular choice within the global workforce. As more employees seek greater work freedom and flexibility, companies must do away with the old ways and evolve if they ever intend to capture a sizeable fraction of the global top talents, many of whom are fast adopting the digital nomad lifestyle.

About the Author: Joseph Sogbaike is a freelance HR content writer with over 4 years experience in the HR industry. He helps businesses create web content that engages their audience and attracts new clients. Connect with Joseph on his website www.hrblogwriter.com or on Twitter @gbengasogbaike.