Remote working started for many as a way to get through the pandemic. It has fast developed into an expected benefit and, for some, become a necessary lifestyle change.
With any switch in working practice, to be successful you must adapt and, with new rules of engagement, managers and leaders have been forced to reassess their style. Trust in people and flexibility has come to the fore, with different protocols and technology put in place to improve operational efficiencies.
Positively, some companies have thrived amongst the chaos, remaining busy and continuing to grow their teams. At the same time, however, redundancies have been widespread, with others spending long periods of uncertainty furloughed and away from their colleagues.
Whatever your scenario, one certain thing is that everything needs to be re-examined, including the way we recruit and, particularly, how we welcome new people into our business.
When managed in the right way, virtual recruitment has the potential to become a very powerful tool. Coupled with the opportunity to work from home, it offers unique opportunities to widen the talent pool and, with geography no longer a barrier, could also give companies the chance to tackle gaps in diversity.
Whether in race, ethnicity, age, or parental status, a comprehensive remote recruitment plan will give you the capability to attract people you simply could not find before.
When hiring from afar, one thing to note is that your timeline may extend beyond the norm. Put simply, it takes longer to get to know someone online, but the need for more time does not mean you should ever succumb to the pressure to compromise.
Start your planning by mapping out a new series of interview stages, putting in place realistic timelines. This may include a stage focused purely on technical competency, dedicated to culture fit, or even a call with some of the prospective new team. Whatever you choose, throughout the process you should also test each person on their use of multiple communication platforms, so you know they are au fait with technology, as this is critical to a remote role.
Making job advertisements more specific is now also important. Too often adverts are written to appeal to everyone and, while vague may sometimes work, you need to be thorough and engaging. If home-working is preferred, share your expectations and show your flexibility.
Softer skills – self-motivation, decisiveness, communication, and time management – are critical, so define a string of interview questions that will dive deeper into these areas.
When you find the right person, my advice would be to begin onboarding straight away. The most difficult aspect for anyone working remotely is to indoctrinate themselves in the company culture. Make sure you provide information about this, the team they are joining, and projects they will be working on.
Preparation is key to making people feel welcome, so test their IT systems ahead of time. Consider giving them access leading up to their start date, this will not only iron out any problems but also help them to get used to the technology.
Once they have begun, make sure you check-in regularly, letting them know exactly what is expected from them each day, as well as sharing who it is they need to ask if they require support, or have any questions.
Encourage video calls with their new colleagues, organise virtual coffee breaks for the team to learn a bit more about each other, maybe even offer them a ‘buddy’ from your team to mentor them in the early days.
With more than two-thirds of people now favouring some form of remote working, while it doesn’t require big changes, it does require a shift in mindset. Given everything that is going on right now, if you want to recruit and retain the best people, then moving with the times is a necessity.