Should your business hire more remote workers?

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to teach even the oldest dog new tricks. This spring, as businesses around the world scrambled to adapt to strict new health measures, even the most stringent of change-evaders were forced to bend to forces beyond their control.

As physical distancing quickly became the new normal, employees began working remotely, keeping in touch with clients from their kitchen tables and connecting with co-workers via Zoom. 

For some employers, the experience was a hard push into a trend that had already been happening long before the pandemic. And for some, the biggest and most surprising lesson they learned from the experience was: people working remotely…works. 

Of course, it doesn’t work for everyone. Businesses that require employees to be on-site because the work is physical in nature or retail shops that serve customers in-store need real people at work. But for those with employees who already do the bulk of their work digitally – and for those who discovered during the pandemic that they were still doing well without people in the office – taking a deeper look into hiring more remote workers may be worth the effort. 

The benefits

Research undertaken by organizations such as Gallup, Harvard University, Global Workplace Analytics and Stanford University shows a number of ways employers benefit from remote workers.

  • On average, teleworkers are 35-40 per cent more productive than their office counterparts.
  • Employees working remotely are more strongly engaged than their in-office counterparts, with 41 per cent lower absenteeism. 
  • Employers who offer the ability to work remotely have better retention of employees. 54 per cent of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility – like where they can work from. 
  • Organizations save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter.

Another benefit: hiring employees who work remotely means you can access skills that might be scarce locally. Thanks to technology, employers can literally hire employees from anywhere around the world. 

How do you hire the right remote worker for your business? 

Pay attention to their behaviour, even before they interview.  

  • Do they respond quickly to your emails? Do they communicate clearly, politely, respectfully? Can they spell? How they communicate with you reflects how they’ll communicate with your clients. 

Make sure they’re suited to working remotely. 

  • Just because someone wants to work from home doesn’t mean they’ll be good at it. Weed out the couch surfers from the keeners by asking if they’ve worked remotely before and if they’re set up with the equipment to complete your projects. In the interview, ask them to walk you through a typical workday. 

Ensure they’re a good fit for you and your culture. 

  • Invite some of your employees to sit in on the interview and ask their own questions, including questions that aren’t all “business” so you can get a sense of the candidate’s personality and if it fits with your work culture. And don’t forget that your current employees can be a great resource. Ask them if they have recommendations for potential hires. 

Give them actual work.

  • For candidates who look particularly promising, give them a paid test project with a firm deadline. The assignment should involve all aspects of the job – including working with your team and with supervisors – so you can see how they work, how well they meet deadlines and how they interact with the rest of your staff. 




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