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3 Steps for Vetting and Engaging Remote Employees

According to McKinsey, 58% of Americans now work from home at least one day a week. And with more and more employers adopting a fully remote or hybrid schedule, hiring can be complex. 

How do you know if your employees are well-suited to a work-from-home environment? 

How do you get them to collaborate with their coworkers virtually? 

How do you ensure that they have an appropriate workload? 

There’s a lot of pressure on managers and leadership, and many worry about getting it wrong. Luckily, there are three things you can do to get it right. Let’s dig in. 

1. Ask the right questions 

Not everyone is cut out for remote work. It takes a level of discipline and commitment to be productive when you’re not in an office setting. And it’s impossible to know with 100% certainty that someone will be a good remote employee. But by asking the right questions, you can predict it with fair accuracy. 

First, I recommend asking them to describe their working style. Remember that you won’t have as much supervision over their day-to-day. So if they seem to need a lot of hand-holding and guidance, they may not be the right fit. 

Next, I’d ask if the candidate has worked remotely before. Look for a strong track record of experience. The more comfortable they feel working in a remote or hybrid environment, the less likely you’ll have to micromanage them, and that will save you significant time and effort in the long run. 

Then, ask them to share a challenge they faced in a remote work setting and how they overcame it. Their answer should give you a sense of whether they are the type to take initiative, roll up their sleeves, and figure things out on their own. At the same time, the candidate should be communicative, willing to ask questions, and ask for help when they need it. 

Lastly, inquire about their home work space. Is it free from distractions? Do they have adequate wifi? You want them to have a spot in which they can focus. 

If you’re still on the fence after asking these questions, you can always consider calling references as a deal breaker.  

2. Set expectations around communication 

Assembling your remote team is only the first step. You’re also responsible for driving your team’s efficiency and effectiveness, starting with proper communication. 

Make sure you’re setting a strong example. Share your expectations for when people need to be online and the response time you expect for Slack or Teams messages. 

While you want direct reports to be proactive and do their due diligence when trying to figure something out, you should also encourage them to ask for help when they really need it. After all, you can’t read their mind and won’t know if they’re struggling unless they speak up. 

3. Foster an engaging culture 

Motivating and engaging remote employees can be a challenge. So get creative. Try: 

  • Hosting team meetings and one-on-ones as video calls instead of phone calls. 
  • Offering ongoing professional development that your employees have been asking for. 
  • Administering assessment tools to better understand your direct reports’ personalities, energy levels, and behavior. 
  • Using a mix of videos, gifs, and PowerPoints to get your points across — all employees learn differently. 
  • Finding unique ways to recognize employees for a job well done. 
  • Brainstorming activities that keep teams energized and connected. Maybe you even ask your whole team to come into the office every quarter to meet and work together. Note: Keep in mind that some folks may have been on video calls all day, so Zoom happy hours may not be a great idea. Opt for an in-person one instead. 

Find a Direct Line to Great Remote Candidates 

You can’t embrace all three steps without sourcing excellent remote candidates. And that can be tough. Turning to a recruiting agency can help you find the diamonds in the rough. 

Learn more about how Planet Professional can help on our website or contact me directly. We are happy to help you accelerate your hiring process.

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