A positive team culture starts (and ends) with the people. That’s why it’s so important – possibly the most crucial step you can take as a manager – to hire people who embody the right qualities for the roles you need to fill.
You’re likely already looking for folks who are responsible, empathetic, have a growth mindset and communicate well. But are these the same qualities you should seek out when hiring for distributed teams, or completely remote positions? And how do you find these elusive remote-friendly employees?
These questions have taken on an added urgency with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Suddenly, remote work is the only game in town. Remote hiring is poised to be more competitive than ever, but there’s also a larger pool of remote workers to hire from than ever before. That’s why we put together this guide to walk you through each step of the remote hiring process: how to find workers, what to look for, what to ask them, and how to close the deal and bring on the best talent.
5 steps to prepare for hiring a remote employee
Let’s start with the basics. Hiring remote employees doesn’t require a complete mindset shift, but it does involve a bit of upfront work to make sure you’re setting new hires up for success. Laying this foundation will help you avoid potential pitfalls along the employment journey.
1. Decide what type of remote situation you’ll be hiring for
First and foremost, you need to ask yourself whether your team will be fully remote or only part-time, work from different offices, or simply have a flexible, work-from-home schedule. If you don’t have policies in place already, start thinking about them now.
Based on your decision, you can decide whether having previous experience working remotely is a necessity. For example, if occasional remote work is more of a perk, you probably don’t need someone who’s been based out of their home office for years. But if you’re building a remote team from scratch, hiring people with remote experience first may be a good idea.
2. Figure out which time zones to hire in
When it comes to collaboration, considering time zone differences becomes crucial. If you cluster employees in a certain time zone, it’s definitely easier to hop on a spontaneous video call or give live, real-time feedback on a project. But you can also set up processes and adopt tools that facilitate asynchronous collaboration, in order to smooth out the challenges of working cross-functionally from different parts of the globe. Weighing the pros and cons of each approach can help you narrow down a list of locations where you can look for potential hires.
3. Choose your tech stack (and get buy-in from potential hires)
To make sure your team is productive no matter what location they’re working from, make sure you choose applications that will make their jobs easier. This means considering a number of different categories of tools: video conferencing, chat, project management, online whiteboard, file management, and more.
4. Learn different communication styles
Time zones aren’t the only barrier to successful communication. If you’re hiring people from different countries and backgrounds, you need to be ready to invest extra time and resources into understanding where they’re coming from, their style of communication, and their approach to work and collaboration.
It may sound like a major challenge, but in the end you can get a major advantage by hiring people with diverse backgrounds, because some studies show that diverse teams are more likely to come up with more creative solutions.
5. Create a budget for IRL (in real life) get-togethers
Fully remote companies like Zapier and Github know that face-time is still vital for teams to bond, collaborate, and understand each other. That’s why they still fly the whole company to one location for a team offsite, annual planning session, or something else.