So You Want to Hire Remote Workers? Here’s What You Should Consider First
While remote work was on the rise even prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the pandemic has really sped up this trend and pushed it into the mainstream. And with stay-at-home orders remaining in place indefinitely, many organizations are now announcing new digital-first approaches and are making remote hiring part of their long-term plans.
From a talent acquisition perspective, there are pros and cons to the rise of remote work. In particular, a distributed workforce presents a new set of challenges and opportunities that we need to think through as we consider our hiring strategies.
While remote work arrangements are an exciting opportunity for organizations to hire the best talent from anywhere in the world, there are also several factors we need to consider before plowing full-steam ahead. Here are a few areas we’d recommend that you consider if you’re thinking about hiring more remote employees or moving to a remote-first environment:
- Employment standards in different provinces, states, and countries
When hiring remote employees, you may want to consider starting with something low-risk, like hiring within the same province or state where you already have offices and employees. For example, if your HQ is in Toronto, ON, but you want to take advantage of the talent pool in Ottawa, ON, then it should be an easy hiring transition because employees will still operate under the same Ontario employment laws.
If you’re considering hiring talent in other provinces, things can become slightly trickier, but it’s still not overly complicated within the same country. Canadian law is typically pretty standard, but you will find some variances across provinces and territories, so you should be mindful to take into account the individual differences of each province before making hiring decisions.
Once you begin exploring hiring talent outside of Canada, then things can become a little more complicated though. When you have employees in other countries, you become subject to their laws and taxes. If you do want to hire talent across the globe, we suggest consulting with employment lawyers and professional outsourcing organizations in those regions, as they will have the expertise and resources to deal with any local issues.
- The remote hiring manager and candidate experience
Once you’ve established the new markets you want to recruit in, the next step is to create a well designed virtual recruitment process. Your new process should provide internal stakeholders with the insight they need to make a hiring decision without physically meeting someone.
On the other side of the table, your process also needs to effectively showcase your organization and culture to candidates. This one is tough because candidates often pick up on cues about what it’s like to work at your organization through their in-person visits, so your new process and touchpoints need to convey that information to them digitally.
Companies will need to get creative and find new ways to exemplify their values, culture and the ways they work so candidates can self-identify if an organization is the right fit for them. If you don’t already have an employer brand and recruitment marketing plan in place, this would be a great time to create one as these initiatives can help to fill the gap, improve your candidate experience, and ensure you attract qualified remote talent. We offer services in this area — feel free to get in touch if you’d like to learn more!
In the meantime, if you want some input on other ways to transition your recruitment process from in-person to virtual, you can take a look at this blog from our resource library: 6 tips for evolving recruiting to a virtual process.
- The new hire virtual onboarding experience
In addition to revising your hiring process for a remote-first environment, you’ll also need to develop a virtual onboarding plan.
If your new employees can’t come to the office, you have to find a way to provide all the necessary information and tools to enable them to get acquainted with the organization, their team, and role-specific information.
This onboarding plan should also cover how your employees will access their hardware and any other physical items required to do their job. For example, will you be shipping them a laptop or are they required to use their own device? Does your company provide office equipment, or a stipend towards office equipment, or is that all on the employee? This information should be clearly outlined so you can communicate it during the hiring process and so the employee is set up to be productive and comfortable as soon as possible.
If you want to learn more about building a virtual onboarding plan, check out our guide on the topic: Onboarding new hires remotely.
- Your organization’s privacy and security protocols
Most of your employees regularly interact with sensitive information, such as passwords, email addresses, personal identifying information, phone numbers, proprietary information, financial data, and communications about customers. And in your office, you likely have a secure network and other measures in place to ensure your information is protected.
However, with a remote workforce, all communication takes place in a decentralized environment. While you likely already have an IT policy in place, if you’re considering hiring remote workers, then now would be a great time to revisit it. It’s also a good point in time to connect with IT and understand the steps being taken and technology being used to ensure that your data is protected and to identify and resolve any gap areas here!
- The tools and technology employees will have access to
Without face-to-face interactions, the systems and tools we use to stay connected have become more important than ever. Before starting to hire remotely at scale, you’ll want to ensure that you’re well poised to provide your employees with the right tools to succeed and be productive.
To do so, you might work with IT and internal communications, for instance, to map out current tools your employees have access to, their purpose and functionality, and opportunities to use them even more effectively. From there, you can identify any gaps that might exist and new tools that you might require to stay connected.
A few technology categories that are must-haves for remote workforces include:
- Teleconferencing tools, like Zoom, so you can see each other over video and connect reliably with one another
- Communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to enable that “water cooler” environment as well as to facilitate productive work chats
- Project management tools like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp, so your team can stay organized despite not being able to check-in as frequently in person on the status of different pieces of work
- The tools and technology employees will have access to
Company cultures are traditionally built around an in-office environment; however, if you’re considering making the move towards remote-first or expanding your remote hires, you’ll need to prioritize creating a great virtual employee experience and company culture.
Some larger organizations are starting to hire for engagement and culture specialists to pay attention and drive results here! While not all of us have those same resources, regardless of your organizational structure, there are a few areas where you might focus your time and efforts to start.
Communication is a critical component of culture. And with a distributed workforce, it’s more important than ever. Work with your internal communications team to look for opportunities and tools that help leadership to communicate better with your workforce and to help employees communicate better peer-to-peer.
Further, where you can, try to be as transparent as possible so people know what’s going on and what to expect regardless of where they’re located. In action, this could look like a monthly virtual town hall led by your organization’s leadership team, a series of ask me anything video sessions, or a new internal newsletter that shares all the latest company news and highlights your team members.
Additionally, without a physical office, employees are less likely to informally bond as they would in the office. To mimic these experiences and create connections across your organization, you can encourage these conversations to continue online. For example, try starting a “TV and movies” group chat on your company’s messaging app, where employees can share their thoughts on what they’re currently watching. In addition, think about if there are a series of virtual events like book clubs, happy hours, etc., that you can put in motion to provide much-needed social interactions.
You’ll also want to ensure that your internal mobility programs reflect your new remote environments. It’s all too easy at many organizations for remote employees to be overlooked for promotions or other opportunities. Managers need to stay more connected than ever to their teams and understand their career goals so that employees will stick around for the long run, feel that they’re valued, and experience the professional development they need over time.
While these are challenging times, they also present a great opportunity for your organization to access new talent pools. We hope these insights have given you some ideas on how to create your remote hiring strategy. And if you need extra support please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We’d be happy to help you craft the perfect remote hiring plan for your organization’s unique goals!
ML6 is a recruitment and talent advisory firm located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We provide customized solutions to support our clients throughout the employee lifecycle. We help our clients attract and retain talent by advising on people programs, processes, and best practices.