In 2005, 1.8 million US employees said they telecommuted for at least half of their scheduled working hours. The same study said in ten years, that number increased by 115%. That’s almost 4 million American workers who report telecommuting for work at some point in their week! The trend has only continued to grow, and there’s no reason to assume it will be going away soon. If you’re currently hiring, onboarding, or working with remote employees, here are some tips to set them up for success!
During the Interview
Ask the Right Questions
Hiring for an employee that will work remotely is vastly different from hiring an employee who spends all of their time in the office. Because of this, you’ll need to look for different qualities and characteristics than you would with an in-office employee. For example, remote employees should be highly self-motivated and remain engaged and productive, despite the lack of an office setting. During a prospective employee’s interview, make sure to ask questions that reveal those qualities, such as past successes during a remote work experience that demonstrates the employee has the ability to stay focused. If you know this position works closely with other employees in a team, ask how they stay communicative with fellow teammates even though they aren’t working in the same office space. Questions like these not only help you better understand the candidate and their working style, but it can also help prepare them for the position and what it entails.
Clearly Communicate Expectations
Candidates interviewing for a remote position often have prior experience working remotely. However, that doesn’t mean the standards in place with their last job were the same as the standards you set. During the final stages of an interview process, ensure that you clearly communicate what you expect from the employee. This could concern hours they work, tasks they complete, or something else entirely. Make sure they feel confident in their ability to fill this role to the best of their ability. They can’t feel completely confident without knowing everything that it entails, so it’s your responsibility to keep them informed.
Ensure Proper Tech Requirements
Technology is one of the most important components in preparing for a remote worker. There are a number of different technological requirements that need to be acquired to set up a remote employee for success. After all, it’s impossible for them to properly communicate with their team and manager if they don’t have access to reliable internet, but this is only the beginning. Typically, companies will also want to invest in a shared file system (like Google Drive), a communication platform (like Slack), and a video conferencing application (like Skype) to ensure good communication among in-office and remote employees.
Design a Check-In Calendar
When you onboard your new employee, sit down and design a check-in plan that works for both of you. In the beginning, more frequent check-ins, like once a week, are recommended. After the employee settles into his or her role, decrease this to once every two weeks or once a month. During check-ins, ask questions about their current projects and challenges they are facing, but also remember to create a space for personal interaction. Remote employees still have a desire for the camaraderie that occurs more naturally in office atmospheres.
Create Face-to-Face Opportunities
21% of remote workers cited loneliness as their biggest problem. One of the best ways to combat this is by scheduling recurring face-to-face opportunities to meet with your remote workers in person. Some companies will designate regular “in the office” days in which all employees come in, perhaps for a team gathering or an all-company meeting. Others will schedule a monthly lunch or coffee date where an employee and his or her manager can meet to discuss the past month and plan important projects and deadlines that will come up in the future month.
Keep Up Communication
As an HR professional, good communication with employees should always be something that’s at the forefront of your mind. With remote employees, this is even more important. A remote employee can’t stop at your desk and chat about a question or concern that’s on their mind. They rely on other communication methods, like email or Slack, to discuss important topics. That being said, make sure to monitor those platforms closely and respond timely to your remote workforce. That way, they know don’t feel ignored or pushed to the wayside.
Research says remote workers actually tend to be more productive in their flexible schedules. However, with all that freedom comes some challenges as well. As an HR professional, take these steps to make sure you’re helping your remote employees avoid those pitfalls and instead, set them up for success!