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Hiring Remote Employees Can Be Scary - Focus on These Four Things

October 7, 2014

iStock-1124867063 (1)This blog was originally published on October 7, 2014 to address the shift towards remote work that many workplaces have been adopting over the last few years. However, we hope that this information will be helpful as many more organizations are now enforcing remote work policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). 

Employees get to skip the commute, save on gas, sleep in an extra few minutes, and work in their pajamas! And, perhaps not surprisingly, studies also show that those who work from home report higher levels of job satisfaction. Having employees work outside of the office saves the employer money on space and furniture. In addition, some studies have shown that remote employees take fewer vacation days, are less likely to turn over, and actually have increased productivity. Sounds like a win-win. However, not all individuals are well-suited for this independence. It’s important to keep in mind that there are some who are more likely to be successful working remotely than others.One of the perks that many companies seem to be offering to these days is allowing their employees to work remotely. It’s easy to do with current employees since you probably have a good idea of who they are and how they work, but what about hiring someone new who will likely always be working remotely? It’s probably a little intimidating, and possibly a little frightening, to give your new employees this kind of freedom, but there are so many great benefits for both sides.

The competencies below are certainly nice to have in any employee but when hiring employees who will be working remotely these shift from the “nice to have” to “critical.” During the selection process, be sure to get a good measure of these competencies from candidates you are considering who will work outside the office.


Because remote employees are just that – remote – there likely isn’t anyone standing behind them to ensure necessary tasks are being completed. As such, it’s important that employers look for a candidate who is a self-starter rather than a candidate who prefers to wait for direction from others.


When you’re not surrounded by managers and colleagues throughout the workday, there is the opportunity to work less or give a decreased effort to the work being produced. Though it may be tempting for everyone to take a long, leisurely lunch, an employee who is committed and feels a sense of ownership is less likely to slack off. Look for candidates who are likely to align their behaviors to the organization’s goals and ideals to be sure they’ll put the success of the project and the company ahead of their desire for an extended lunch.

Time/Resource Management

The flexibility that working from home allows can be a blessing and a curse. You can sleep in until right before you need to start your day; but you may also end up working later hours as the lines between being on and off the clock are blurred. In order for remote employees to be successful, they need to have strong time management skills. They’ll need to be able to estimate the amount of time and other resources necessary to complete their work and plan and execute accordingly.

Realistic Job Preview

It’s also important that employers give candidates as realistic a job preview as possible. What can the candidate expect should they be hired into this role? Logistically, will they be responsible for their computer, internet, phone, or will the company reimburse? Will they need to reach out with weekly updates on what has been accomplished? Are they simply responsible for getting the job done and have the flexibility to do so whenever is convenient for them? Giving candidates this preview of the job gives them another important data point to determine if working remotely – in addition to the work itself – will be a good fit.

Focusing on these traits will give you a good idea of how that candidate will function when they’re working remotely. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to make a great hire. Next time you’re tasked with hiring a remote employee – make sure you measure for these traits.

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Kate Van Bremen, Ph.D. Kate Van Bremen, Ph.D. was a Consultant based out of Charlottesville, VA. She has extensive experience designing, implementing and managing various human resource systems. She has conducted job analyses and created, implemented, validated and managed selection systems.