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Managing Remote Workers: How to Hire Remote Employees in 2021

Read Time: 12 mins

Curious about how to hire remote employees? Take a look at these insights and best practices for managing remote workers, hiring, and onboarding too. 

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Remote workers can bring a wealth of talent to your business. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Companies that hire remote workers are actively benefiting from this rising trend. Familiarize yourself with the basics and consider how remote hiring could work for your business. In this tutorial you'll learn all about how to hire remote employees.

Note: If your team has been working remotely and now, you're planning for all or part of the team to return to your physical office, we've got that covered too. Study this related tutorial:

What Are Remote Employees?

Remote employees, or remote workers, are employees that don't necessarily work in the same office. Often, these employees work from their home office, or a place separate from your central location. A team of remote workers could potentially co-work together from many different places, all over the globe.

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Working remote means connecting with your employees from outside of a traditional office setting. (Image source: Envato Elements)

While this might sound like an exciting prospect (and it is!), it also comes with possible challenges. If you're new to hiring remote employees, you might be concerned about things like:

  • effectively communicating with employees when you aren't in the same location
  • schedules, time differences, and making synchronous needs work
  • keeping track of how much work is done and when it's done
  • establishing trust when you might never meet your remote workers face to face

There are many ways to overcome these challenges. Doing so is a key part of managing remote workers and arming your remote team for success.

Remote Employees Are on the Rise

Since the mid-2000s, the number of remote workers in the United States alone has risen over 100%. Globally, that percentage is even higher

COVID-19 meant a lot of changes, for a lot of businesses. A part of this includes working remotely, as staying home and staying safe has been a global priority. A professional survey found that around 80% of business are going to continue to offer remote work, at least part-time.

Telecommuting reportedly saves money for both the employer and employee. Companies that hire remote workers boost productivity rates too. It doesn't appear like working remotely is going to stop any time soon. In fact, companies that hire remote workers include big names like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and PayPal.

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Working remote is growing in popularity, and with big names too. (Image source: Envato Elements

But why is remote work so appealing? Here are some of the benefits to consider:

  • Remote work can offer considerable flexibility to your employees.
  • Less time is spent commuting, which can save time. This can also have a more environmentally friendly footprint.
  • Many remote workers report stronger work life balance. Imagine that 30 minute commute instead going to family time or rest.

3 Issues for Companies That Hire Remote Workers in 2021

Let's take a look at some common issues and concerns that may arise with remote hiring. Take these points into consideration as you explore how to recruit remotely and how to hire remote employees too.

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Finding the perfect remote employee can be a challenge. (Image Source: Envato Elements

1. Prepare for More Applicants When Hiring a Remote Employee

Consider this for a moment. When you hire locally, you're looking for talent in a local pool.

When hiring a remote employee your pool of potential hires gets much larger, depending on the target area. If you opt to hire remote workers globally, your talent pool potentially grows exponentially!

This also means that you might get considerable influx in applications. This isn't a bad thing. A bigger pool means you get even more qualified candidates. But an increased number of applications can be overwhelming. How do you choose?

  • Make sure your metrics are clearly defined from the start.
  • Have a plan for organization before you begin your search.

We'll look at some key strategies for hiring remote employees in a moment. But make sure to expect more applicants so you can prepare for them.

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A larger talent pool can mean more applications to consider. (Image source: Envato Elements)

2. What About Different Time Zones and Locations?

What happens if you have one employee on one side of the world and another employee on the opposite side? You could have one person working in the morning while it's night time elsewhere in the world. 

But this isn't necessarily as large a challenge as you might think. Start with clearly defined goals for your team. If something is due at 8 pm PST, for example, make sure that time easily converted for everyone else. Plus, you may want to reduce your region. You don't have to be global. Your remote employees could be local or maybe within a particular radius. 

Keep in mind that many online communications make asynchronous work easier than ever. If you keep things self-paced with broad deadlines, time difference begin to feel less like a burden and more like a variable.

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Time zones are a consideration, but don't have to be a burden. (Image Source: Envato Elements)  

3. How Do You Handle Communication Remotely? Won't It Feel "Cold" or Impersonal?

Communication might be one of your biggest concerns when it comes to remote hiring. After all, communication is a large part of business interactions.

In a traditional, in-person work environment we can hear each other's voices. We can pick up on body language. We can chat, we can have lunch, and we can build rapport with our teams. In some regards, a computer screen can seem cold in comparison.

It might be easy to think that working remotely can be a cold or disconnected experience. It's the potential to be that way, especially if the employer does not take the work environment into consideration. But it doesn't have to be this way.

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You can have rich, engaging interactions with remote teams too. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Think about your ideal, traditional office environment. It would likely be a place where everyone can freely and easily communicate. You might have regular, scheduled meetings and opportunities to collaborate, but you'd still have independent moments too. Everyone would likely have tasks and responsibilities on their own. Business communications would have structure, organization, and planning applied.

One of the keys here is purposely creating a warm environment where communication and collaboration are simple and accessible. Video chat, for example, is a great way to see your team and interact with them in a very organic way.

You can also take advantage of real time text chat on platforms like Slack. Organize and share your content on platforms like Asana or Trello. Just like you would invest in your office spaces, in a remote environment you've got to invest in a quality, virtual space.

Where and how does your team connect? Take the time to consider what's best for your business.

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Create a clear and accessible way for your remote team to connect and collaborate. (Image source: Envato Elements

How to Hire Employees Remotely

If you're looking to hire remote workers, consider these points. Use them to help you decide the best way how to recruit remotely for your business. Your needs may vary, so don't hesitate to tweak these points to meet your objectives.

Here are three guidelines to help:

1. Start With Clear Goals, Metrics, and Guidelines 

So, who is your ideal candidate? If your answer to this question is too open ended, you may end up in an overwhelming situation.

Consider making list of desired skills and experience. Order them in importance, and decide which points are more flexible than others. For example, you might substitute years of experience for extended education. Or you may require a portfolio, but not necessarily put as much emphasis on specific software fluency.

Define these metrics in advance. This way, it'll be easier to filter through applications and identify strong candidates.

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Start by clearly defining what you're looking for when hiring a remote employee. (Image source: Envato Elements)  

2. What Platform Will You Use to Attract Candidates?

How and where will you attract candidates? 

There are many job boards out there you could try. Keep in mind that where you advertise your position matters. For example, if you advertise in your local newspaper, your candidates will likely be local. If you advertise on an international job board, your talent pool will be much larger.

It's also important to consider how and where you will accept applications. Will you ask applicants to email you directly? Will you use a content management system to help sort through applications? If you use a platform, you may be able to request data entry into specific forms to help further filter information.

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Choose the right platform to advertise your remote position. (Image source: Envato Elements

3. Engage With Candidates in a Rich, Meaningful, and Fair Way

How you engage with candidates matters. Remember, these are people not data. If you treat them like numbers, you could potentially discourage a great candidate. Consider practices like these to help humanize the process for everyone:

  • Automated replies assures a candidate that their application was received. This can help reduce extra emails too.
  • Clear dates can also help avoid confusion. Things like cut off dates and review dates help applicants plan accordingly.
  • If you can't reply to every applicant, consider making that clear from the start. If you welcome follow ups, make that clear too.
  • Consider how you'll interview candidates. Will you try video conferencing? Will you talk on the phone? It might be a strong idea to connect with your candidate beyond text only.

If you've found a candidate that you'd like to pursue, remember: this is your first impression. There's no need to overdo it, but this is your chance to present your business as welcoming and desirable. Things like tone of voice and body language don't always transfer to platforms like email. This is why other media, like video, can act as a great tool here.

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Connect with your candidates in a rich, engaging way. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Managing Remote Workers Toolkit

Consider creating a "managing remote workers toolkit" for your business. This can be a collection of platforms, software, guidelines, and best practices that you'll use when engaging with remote employees and candidates. If you do this in advance, you'll take some of the guesswork out of managing remote workers.

Here are four suggestions you may want to add to your own toolkit:

1. Video Conferencing

Many would consider video conferencing to be an essential for remote employees. Tools like Zoom or Skype can be a great choice.

Video calls add an extra level of interaction, as opposed to only audio or text. It can be a great choice for presentations, group meetings, and discussions. You often have the option to provide a recording for those who could not attend, as well.

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Video conferencing can be an excellent way to connect and collaborate with remote teams. (Image source: Envato Elements

2. Other Collaborative Tools

Consider other ways to collaborate too. Here are some tools to consider:

  • Text communications can be faster and more convenient than video. Instant chat software can make messaging simple. It also makes it easier to "log off" when the day is over, while still being able to log on and read what one might have missed.
  • Message boards are a popular choice in academia for similar reasons. This ability to continually contribute is an advantage over video conferencing. Slack and Microsoft Teams are popular options.
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Consider other collaborative tools to help empower your remote teams. (Image source: Envato Elements

3. Organizational Tools

Keep communications organized, easy to find, and easy to read. Consider an interactive task list where users can see and log progress. This way everyone is on the same page and understands due dates, expectations, and other essential factors. Popular options would include Trello and Asana.

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Just like a traditional environment, your remote work space needs organization and structure too. (Image source: Envato Elements)  

4. Digital Community and Resources

There's plenty more you can explore for your remote teams. For example, will you offer any means of community building? Are there resources for your team when they've got questions or concerns?

Here are some ideas you could try:

  • Consider making an FAQ or handbook available digitally. This way, if there's a question, there's no need to wait until someone is online. 
  • Likewise, make sure contact information is easy to find. You may also want to consider a response policy, particularly in leadership roles. For example, if someone will be away for an extended time, how and where is the team made aware?
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Make resources and communication open and available to your remote employees. (Image source: Envato Elements

Learn More About Remote Hiring

Ready to learn more about how to hire employees? Check out these free articles and resources from Envato Tuts+. There's plenty more to learn, and there's no better time than right now to dig in.

What Best Practices Will You Incorporate for your Remote Employees?

There are plenty of options to explore when it comes to how to hire remote employees.

Even though the environment might be different when working online keep this in mind: you're still interacting with people. The media and the means might be different. But there's still plenty of potential to make awesome connections with strong candidates.

Recapping, you can prepare yourself to hire and manage remote workers by:

  • clearly defining your ideal candidate
  • setting clear expectations for your remote employees
  • choosing appropriate platforms for recruitment
  • building an environment where communication is clear, organized, and accommodates remote work considerations

Build upon and adapt these considerations to best suit your professional goals. Good luck in your pursuit of strong remote candidates!

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