Any hiring manager knows it is important to determine the skills and characteristics necessary to be successful when they decide to hire someone for a new position. But those of you who hire remote employees need to also think about what additional characteristics are desired in a remote worker, as there is a big difference between a traditional work environment and a virtual one. We’re going to spend some time focusing on those characteristics you’ll want to ensure your next remote employee possesses.
Self-Motivated & Independent
A successful remote employee is one who has an intrinsic drive to work and be successful, versus a person you have to motivate through external means. Think about it – remote employees do not have the daily influence of their supervisor, coworkers, culture (good or bad), or other external forces to keep them going. You must ensure that the person you place in this position is internally wired to push themselves, to want to be the best, because you won’t be there to do it.
The person you hire also has to have the skills necessary to work on projects independently. Virtual environments limit social interaction, so they won’t have the luxury of quickly asking a question as easily as if they were sitting next to someone. Ideally, you’ll seek employees who are independent problem solvers and researchers.
Effective, Proactive Communicator
Remote employees need to have exceptional written and verbal communication skills. Your strongest remote employees will value proactive, frequent communication, always making a concerted effort to maintain contact with others on their team. A remote employee’s coworkers aren’t right next door, so being proactive about communication is necessary to develop and maintain connections with team members.
Experience Working Remotely
A remote work situation may be everyone’s dream job, until they try it for the first time. Certain benefits are a given, but there are aspects that may challenge people. A high level of initiative is a given necessity in a remote worker, but you will also need to make sure your new employee can handle a role in which there is little social interaction and lots of isolation. Can he or she stay focused all day without the structure of the standard work environment? The easiest way to ensure your new employee knows what to expect, and thrives amidst the challenges, is to find one who has been there before.
Who wouldn’t want to avoid morning rush hours and to come into work in PJ’s and slippers? Or perhaps, to work from home while taking care of a few young children? Maybe your next applicant is the type who likes to work odd times and would plan to report in all hours of the day and night – but may not be around when others are? While you want to remain sensitive to work life balance issues, you’ll need to assess a candidate’s motivation for working from home. If it’s all about them, and not so much about you, that probably won’t lead to long term happiness. Ensure that an applicant’s work habits and thought process is in line with the company’s goals and direction.
There are many ways to use technology to bring people together; it is no longer necessary to do so physically. Email, chat software, collaboration tools, conference calls are crucial for ongoing communication. These tools make it easier for remote employees to stay connected with their coworkers, customers and other contacts. Your best remote candidates will be those who are savvy with these various forms of digital communication and who use them diligently to stay in touch.
Effective interviewing will help you determine if your candidates possess these and other desired characteristics. References can also be a good source of information, providing they are professional in nature and you ask the right questions. The key here is to be intentional about knowing what to look for and to be diligent in your hiring process.