Remote work is the future - if you let it be that. The number of people working remotely is on the rise. If you’re thinking about hiring remote employees, this guide is for you!
The A to Z of Remote Hiring
The rise of remote working
The number of people working remotely is on the rise. According to the US Census Bureau, 8 million people (5.2% of the working population) in the US worked from home in 2017. That share was 5% in 2016 and 3.3% in 2000.
Gallup's global survey of 1,900 remote workers from 90 countries reveals that 90% of remote employees would prefer to work remotely for the rest of their careers. While having the flexibility to work outside a traditional brick-and-mortar corporate office has been feasible for a few decades, working remotely is now becoming mainstream.
Also, the benefits are many. It not only gives employees the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world, but also helps companies save a significant amount on operational and infrastructural costs.
According to Ryan Asdourian, Sr. Director - Windows and Devices BG Lead, Microsoft:
Gone are the days of rigid schedules where workers are fixed to computer terminals between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm.
Why should organizations hire remote employees?
Here are a few reasons why you should hire remote employees:
Reason #1: More productive employees
The statistics are out there! A two-year Stanford study found that remote workers are more productive than people who sit in a cubicle for a 9 to 5 job.
The study demonstrates that people working from home get double the amount of work done rather than when in office.
Now that’s something to consider seriously.
David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails and the Instiki wiki and also a partner at Basecamp says:
A lot of people just get a lot more done when they are not sitting in a loud office; when they can work on their own time on their own schedule and just collaborate in moderation.
Reason #2: Decreased costs
According to a Forbes magazine report, companies of all sizes report significant decreases in operating costs when they have remote teams on board. Major companies such as Aetna (where some 14,500 of 35,000 employees work remotely) got rid of 2.7 million square feet of office space. This saved the company a whopping 78 million dollars! American Express reported annual savings of approximately 15 million dollars, thanks to its remote work options.
Reason #3: Diversified talent pool
One of the most oft-cited reasons companies hire remote employees is to expand their talent pools. Hiring people from different geographies not only gives organizations the flexibility to attract great talent, that otherwise might not want to travel to a location, but also allows them to expand their talent pool.
Additionally, breaking down geographic barriers offers opportunities to the other members of the workforce, such as the disabled, rural, inner city, and single parents. In fact, hiring a diverse team helps companies develop their products. Pinterest, for instance, came up with a search filter that allows users to filter results by skin tone, helping clients get relevant makeup advice.
Reason #4: Doing business across time zones
Last but not least, different time zones! Time difference is more of an enabler than an inconvenience. For organizations looking to set a bar for customer support, embracing time zones can help them achieve it with ease. You can speed your response by manifolds if your employees are spread across multiple time zones.
How to hire remote employees
First of all, you should know what to look for when hiring remote employees.
Next, you should use the right tools. Phone screening and video interviews are the primary communication channels for recruiters while hiring remote employees. It is of utmost importance that recruiters use the right tools to make communication easier. Additionally, using assessment tools is a great way of evaluating a candidate’s skills and making unbiased hiring decisions.
Remote hiring tools
Here are some tools you can use to hire remote employees:
#1 Video interview tools
Spark Hire is a cloud-based, video-interviewing tool that is designed for recruitment professionals and HR departments to conduct one-way, pre-recorded, or live interviews. It caters to companies of all sizes and has one of the best analytics tools in the market. With its simple but highly effective analytics dashboard, recruiters can track everything, from acceptance/rejection breakdowns to interview completion rates at a quick glance.
Remote working may involve people working in different geographies and time zones. HireVue lets candidates schedule interviews by themselves. This is particularly useful in cases where there is a vast difference in time zones. They can also record video responses from their smartphones and tablets. Given that a significant number of people use mobile devices to access the Internet, HireVue’s mobile video interviewing solution is a great way to tap into the broadest pool of candidates.
#2 Developer assessment tools
HackerEarth can help you create online assessments for a wide range of predefined technical roles. Candidates can attempt these tests from anywhere in the world. The tool will let you customize tests parameters, such as difficulty levels, duration, marking schemes, cut-off scores, criteria, and much more. You can choose from a large pool of questions that are categorized by skills or create a library of custom questions that can be used to create tests.
A tech recruiting platform, Codility supports online technical interviews and coding challenges to help recruiters evaluate programmers. With Codility, you can create tests, evaluate candidates’ code, and connect with the best candidates. The most significant advantage is that tests are delivered and scored automatically so they can be set by non-technical recruiters for candidates anywhere in the world.
Berke believes that every job is different and, therefore, customizes pre-employment assessments based on the requirements of recruiters. It lets you mix and match tests for various job roles to assess candidates on skills such as personality traits and problem-solving abilities. It has a customizable interview guide to standardize interview processes thus making them consistent and effective.
#3 Culture-fit assessment tools
ThriveMap offers two products - role fit assessments and organizational fit assessments. These assessments assess candidates as per the job role within a specific business or in the context of what they mean to an organization. These assessments can ensure whether a candidate and a company are a good fit for each other.
If you like data-driven hiring, then Saberr is for you! Saberr uses Artificial Intelligence to predict how well a candidate will fit into an organization, a role, and a team.
How top companies make remote working work
Now that we have a fair share of knowledge about what remote hiring is, let us run through some examples of top companies that are known for hiring remote employees and the best practices they follow. Inspiration galore!
#1 American Express
Also known as Amex, American Express focuses on a work culture that enables people to do what they love, making it an ideal fit for ambitious digital nomads. What better way to combine one's passion for travel with their career ambitions.
Named as one of the top 20 companies for remote workers, it offers remote job roles or globe-trotting-friendly positions in many of its departments such as customer service, human resources, etc. For most remote positions, they’ll set up a separate high-speed internet connection from one’s home network.
One of the biggest online retailers in the world, Amazon hires remote employees for several developer positions, business intelligence analysts, data associates, and IT support engineers. The benefits are plenty! The perks include employee discounts, health insurance, retirement planning, overtime pay, maternity and paternity leaves, etc.
The company has a virtual location career page for remote jobs that you can filter by location and category. In 2019, the company plans to get 3,000 remote employees on board.
Apple is known for hiring permanent remote employees as it believes in empowering people to serve as Apple’s human connection online. It has a massive network of remote customer support agents, saving the company significant real estate expenses of a call center.
For all remote employees, Apple provides an iMac and a headset so one can complete tasks efficiently. Additionally, remote employees receive robust benefit packages, including paid time away and product discounts. It has an “At Home Advisor job” page where people interested in remote jobs can find the perfect role for themselves.
Dell believes that allowing employees to work remotely is not just a perk but a conscious business strategy that helps save money and the environment. According to Mohammed Chahdi, Dell's global director of HR services, “Where you choose to work -- at home or at the office -- won't count for or against you, so long as it's the best place for you to get your work done and you provide the results the company wants.”
The biggest benefit includes work flexibility, allowing team members options for how, where, and when to do their work. To convey its remote culture in the recruitment process, Dell uses social media featuring stories of its remote employees on an ongoing basis. It loves Instagram in particular.
It also conducts onboarding for remote employees digitally via websites, documentation, and videos. The best thing is, the company ensures remote team members meet other team members at Dell in person at least once a year.
GitHub has an interesting take on remote working. The company says, “Restricting the group of people you can select from (to perform a task) to a geographic region such as a city (where traditional offices are located) is like limiting yourself to only having relationships with people in your neighborhood.”
GitHub believes that employees should not only love the work they do, but also where they do it from. They offer remote working for various positions in engineering, marketing, design, services, support, etc. The company encourages employees to figure out what work environment suits them best. All employees at GitHub get plenty of perks like unlimited paid time off, paid gym memberships, health insurance, etc.
Questions to ask remote candidates during interviews
Recruiters have a huge choice when it comes to the questions they can ask remote employees. They can ask questions related to the candidate's qualifications, questions that reveal the inner workings of their mind, etc.
As more organizations embrace a remote work culture, it's important to know which interview questions to ask a candidate to gauge a perfect fit. Here are a few questions (in random order) you must ask when hiring a remote worker.
- Are you comfortable using time-tracking tools?
Do you face any conflicts/issues when working remotely? If yes, how do you tackle them?
- Do you use any tools to manage and complete your work?
- How do you keep abreast with the latest industry trends?
- How do you stay focused?
- How do you analyze and solve problems on your own?
- How would you solve the following problem? (Ask them to solve problems in real time via video calls)
- Tell me a recent project you worked on .
- Tell me about a time when you were on a tight deadline and had deliverables.
What according to you constitutes a healthy work environment? / Describe your work ethic
- What inspired you to pursue this career? / Why are you interested in this position?
- What’s your remote work experience?
- What’s your working hours like?
Also, it goes without saying that asking questions related to the job role the candidate is applying for is of utmost importance. For example, while assessing a developer, avoid asking questions like, “How would you rate yourself in XYZ language” or “How old is Jane’s mother given the age difference?”. Ask the right questions and hire the best!
Keep your remote workers productive
As we already explained, remote workers report greater productivity than in office employees. However, if you’re worried about your remote employees’ productivity, check out these tips for keeping your remote employees productive!
Remote-first vs. remote-friendly
Many people get confused between the terms “remote-first” and “remote-friendly” and make the mistake of using them interchangeably.
Here’s what they mean:
A remote-first company is one that started with the idea of being completely remote, since day 1. Most remote-first companies don’t even have an office, and employees are dispersed throughout the globe. Remote work is not an additional perk in such cases but is the default. This means the team and management at remote-first offices had things such as flexible working hours, time differences, diversified talent pool, etc., from day one. Some examples of remote-first companies are 10up, Buffer, FlexJobs, etc.
A remote-friendly company, on the other hand, is one that started with a team at an office headquartered somewhere - maybe India, Mexico, or the United States - it doesn’t matter. Once the team grew, they decided to include work from home as a perk. Then maybe, someone from another state or overseas joined the team and started working from elsewhere other than the company headquarters. That’s when the company becomes remote-friendly.
Final thoughts: A remote work is a reality
A remote workforce is a reality. The sooner your organization adopts it, the better it will be. Accommodating such a workforce will need a reworking of employee policies, talent management technology, and a lot more. It is possible to attain a strong, cohesive team that participates effectively and collaborates in all aspects of the company, even if a portion or all of the workforce is located offsite. This might sound like a herculean task but will be worth it in the long run. You’ll see!
About the author
Ashmita Roy is a Content Editor at HackerEarth. With a knack for writing, she hopes to write something, someday, worth plagiarizing. When she’s not working, you can find her strumming her guitar or binging on Netflix.