Remote Control: How To Pick The Best Remote Employee / Hiring / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

It takes a special type of person to be truly successful working from home. Here's what to look for when hiring for a remote position.

When looking for a remote employee, employers should begin by understanding how both the employee and the employer benefit from remote work

First, the employer may not have to expand real estate costs as quickly as they would if all employees were located in office. While not always entirely avoidable, this could save some much-needed company funds when they are needed most (like for that company Christmas party). 

Second, employees save money on commuting costs. Not only that, but it saves time on both ends. Driving clear across town (or even into a different state) is not always a pleasure for employees.

In addition, things that might be out of the employee’s control, like car troubles, appointments etc. won’t usually get in the way of completing assignments. Remote schedules are much more flexible and allow workers to get work done at their own pace, and as long as deadlines and expectations can be met - that’s a definite win-win.

Before interviewing the perfect person for the job, keep in mind that every person works differently. Someone who needs constant direction, interaction and validation might not be the right fit for the position. This doesn’t mean they aren’t a fantastic employee, it just means they might need to be placed elsewhere.

So, how do you know if a person will be more independent or need a more hands on experience? Let’s start with understanding why someone wants to work remotely in the first place.

Related Article: 11 Tools for Tracking Your Remote Staff's Productivity

Why Does an Employee Prefer Remote Work?

Don’t just hire a remote worker because that is what fits best for the company strategy. To get the best work and overall potential out of employees, the recruiter should understand why this person needs or wants to work remotely in the first place.

HELPFUL TIP: When interviewing, ask probing questions about their daily schedule and why working remotely would be a great fit for them.

Someone who has worked similarly before or has put great thought into this type of work will be able to walk you through their remote thought process easily. Someone who just wants to work from home because they think it’s easy probably hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Family life is another big reason employees might want to work from home. Work-life balance can be much easier from home. At-home work can also help a person reduce their stress levels and actually maintain their personal health better. If time with family and specific plans about improving their own personal health and the health of their family is high on their priority list you’ve probably found someone who is dedicated to getting things done.

How Do I Know If My Employee Will Do Good Work?

Skill assessments are absolutely essential before bringing on any candidate. The perfect person should be able to get all tasks finished in a timely manner, be able to finish all work independently, and communicate efficiently in written form (and often). This is why it is always a great idea to allow as much time as possible between the interview and hiring date.

Keep in mind that remote employee’s skills should not be discounted. Many educated folks just prefer to work their dream jobs from home. Just because someone’s schedule allows for better work from home does not mean they are inferior to an office worker. With that being said, employees should be open to several “tests” before they are hired - starting with adhering to deadlines.

HELPFUL TIP: Ask your remote employee to do some research, write up a summary, or even prioritize a large amount of tasks for the day. If the employee cannot complete the task by the date assigned or becomes easily overwhelmed and cannot prioritize their time, then they most likely won’t be able to do it on a weekly basis. These types of traits can absolutely be taught, but it may not work immediately for remote work.

Related Article: Remote vs. In-Office Workers: Which Employee Is Actually Better?

How Do I Know If They're Actually Working?

Studies have shown that many college grads work better independently rather than in a group. While some might see this type of behavior as negative, this is actually a wonderful trait for remote employees. Those who prefer solitary work can easily ignore distractions and may actually even get more work done at home than they would in an office.

So, the ability to work independently is a necessity in this case.

HELPFUL TIP: Require your candidate to get a reasonable task finished within a short time (maybe a couple of hours) and see how well they were able to deliver. If they don’t finish or are missing areas, then they aren’t able to follow direction properly. The other option is they may have been doing other activities during what should have been strict work time.

Another valuable test is of a person’s dependability and capacity to report. 

HELPFUL TIP: Have the candidate email yourself or the team with regular updates for a whole day, precisely when they are asked for. Ask them to email or chat the team at specific times with new information.

This person should be able to clearly and accurately portray what their work from home looks like and do so on time according to the schedule agreed upon. Any possible conflicts in work time should have been communicated ahead of time.

Although extra time might be required during the hiring process for remote employees, these workers can and will do equally impressive work (if not better) as office employees. Finding someone with a flexible schedule, pinpoint time management, and independent work skills can be truly invaluable to a workforce. In the long run, this employee is likely to be more loyal, do fantastic work, and might even be happier on the job.


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