Many of us are still making the commute into the office on a daily basis. Many employers expect this of their employees, operating under the assumption that “remote work” is only suitable for contract work, or that flexible working is a nice-to-have.
But 4.7 million people in the United States now work remotely. That’s 3.4% of the population hitting sales targets, serving customers, building software, or pretty much anything else from somewhere other than an office location. And it’s a trend that continues to grow.
Having the capability to, and knowing how to hire remote workers ensures your business is well-placed to attract, recruit and retain the talent you need to succeed.
But how do you create a hiring process that’s entirely online to complement that?
Why hire remote workers
In a large portion of industries, we do most of our work from our computers. Where does it matter where those computers are located?
There are some real reasons why there are still reservations about hiring remote workers. But with the right infrastructure, there are proven benefits:
- Cost savings related to office space
- Remote workers are more productive
- Attract better candidates with a flexible work policy
- Remote workers take less sick leave
Being able to hire remote workers can also give your business the increased agility needed for success. Victoria Clark, People and Culture Manager at Venngage, said that “Being a start-up means we need to be able to grow and scale quickly but also retain enough flexibility to absorb the impact from any shifts in our strategy or the market.”
“Taking hiring virtual enabled [Venngage] to explore new markets quicker than we would have been able to with traditional hiring methods. Being able to hire somebody already in that market pretty much overnight meant that we could hit the ground running. The local knowledge that remote workers can bring is incredible.”
Challenges of hiring remote workers
One of the most common objections of hiring remote workers is that it can be hard to build relationships with candidates.
“There is something to be gained from having candidates visit the office to really see/hear/feel our culture, but that it should never be a dealbreaker,” comments Samantha Giannangeli, Operations and People Lead for Ellevate Network, a community for women in the workplace fostering gender equality.
“It is harder to form genuine connections with people with a screen between you,” adds Giannangeli. “From an interviewer’s perspective, you also miss out on some of the social cues/body language, so it can be more difficult to interpret reactions. There’s also the standard conference call problems – talking over one another, mishearing, etc.”
The best way to overcome this, Giannangeli suggests, is to “encourage the candidate to get accustomed to the platform and test their devices ahead of time, as well as to start the interview process by building rapport – take some time to get to know the person, smile, and make sure you are being expressive with your body language.”
It might take some adjustment, but the tools do exist that allow us to form working relationships even if employees are remote. Traditionally, phone and video interviews have been the heroes of remote hiring. But new technologies can support hiring managers to make fairer and faster hiring decisions.
Conversational chatbots are one interesting solution if you have an attractive careers page. One example is Mya, providing an augmented experience on your career page to help job seekers find relevant positions. With this experience, you may see an increase in candidate conversions.
Another is to invite all candidates to take an online interview. Using scalable, AI-powered technology, recruiters can get an assessment of the skills each candidate has, and focus on those that match the requirements of the role. Not only does this mitigate bias, but it also builds trust in the candidate early on – vital for a remote working relationship. Plus, it will help filter out those applicants who aren’t that interested in the role, keeping your candidate pool full of people excited to work for you.
Even if you’re hiring people with the intention of them working from a physical office space, there’s a lot to be learned from remote hiring practices. Often, having even some of your hiring process done virtually can give you an advantage.
“When you insist upon in-person interviews, you’re limiting your ability to attract the best candidates, not all of whom will be able to travel (especially for an interview) while working a prior job,” says Giannangeli.
Remote hiring will become the new norm
“At a time when our world and economy are becoming more and more connected each day, virtual hiring is here to stay,” says Giannangeli.
Adjusting your processes to hire remote workers has never been easier, with so many tools available to help you achieve it.
Clark adds, “virtual hiring options can be built into your long term strategy. Knowing that you have access to skilled workers around the world means that you can take risks and try new ideas in a way that traditional hiring doesn’t allow.”
Read more tips from great companies on how to hire remote workers: