This blog was originally published on September 5, 2017 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).
If you’re trying to hire for a remote position, or if you’re a recent graduate who is interested in working from home, you’ve probably read some advice articles online. I know I did—as I’ve been working remotely now for over a year here at Select International. My company has an office in Pittsburgh, but I’m one of nearly 40% of our employees who calls a different state their home. Select International does a fantastic job hiring remote employees, but I’ve also worked remotely for another company (we’ll call them Company X) that needed some serious revamping to their hiring strategy. Below are some of the key differences between companies that engage in remote hiring best practices—and those that don’t.
Successful companies factor “remote fit” into the final hiring decision.
WHEN YOU DON’T: When I applied for Company X, it was a locally-based company. I just assumed I would be going to an office every day. It wasn’t until my second interview that my employer casually mentioned it was an 80% remote position. As an applicant, this really threw me—I would’ve answered my interview questions with that in mind, and asked different questions about the role, and possibly not applied to the position at all. I ended up taking the job anyway, but I was one of the few employees who stayed longer than a year.
WHEN YOU DO: From the beginning of my application process with Select International, the possibility of remote work was mentioned early and often. Not only does this clarify the role for the applicant, it allows the organization to measure what I call “remote fit,” or the characteristics needed to be successful in a remote position. This will vary somewhat depending on the nature of the role, but the earlier you screen for these fit factors, the more likely you’ll find an applicant who can do the core tasks and thrive in this unique setting. Turnover is extremely rare here, and screening for remote fit is no doubt a contributing factor.
No matter how independent your remote workers are, you need to create a community.
WHEN YOU DON’T: At Company X, I was one of only 30 employees. Despite that small size, and the fact that we were mostly local, I probably only met about four other employees in my time there. We had extensive email communications, but they were typically very to-the-point and goal-focused. When tight deadlines cropped up or we had to collaborate, I struggled to be efficient because I felt like I was working with strangers. When I decided to look for a new role, it was relatively easy to cut ties with Company X—they hadn’t made me feel like I was a part of a community.
WHEN YOU DO: Things couldn’t be more different with my current company. We have volunteer committees, social media groups, Skype lunch dates, and in-person team-building events at least twice a year. Whenever there is a local event in Pittsburgh, the company always includes a remote option and reinforces how much they consider us a part of the team. None of these activities require much time or effort, but the overall effect on employee commitment is profound. Having a remote workforce isn't an excuse not to build a strong culture of togetherness; if anything, it becomes that much more crucial for success.
I love being a remote employee, but I don’t love it unconditionally. In order for remote work to be a positive and productive experience for both the employer and the employee, you need to take targeted steps to ensure success. Otherwise, you’ll just be another Company X.