Remote teams are the future. However, many managers still fear using remote teams since the workers aren’t under their watchful eye. The book Remote: Office Not Required shows that just because employees are coming to work, doesn’t mean that they are more productive. A study on the headquarters of J.C. Penny showed that their 4800 employees who came into their office every weekday used 30% of the company’s bandwidth to watch videos on YouTube.
An experiment by Ctrip, a Chinese travel website, showed just how beneficial remote teams are to companies. The company had more productive workers when they gave them the option to work from home. The workers were happier and the company was happy to have saved $1900 in overheads per employee over the nine months during which the experiment lasted.
Many companies are shifting to remote teams due to the many benefits that come with them. Large multinationals such as Apple and Dell have remote teams that form a core part of their workforce. Smaller companies are also reaping the benefits of remote teams by spending less in overheads.
The Remote Employee
One of the greatest fears that managers have when faced with prospect of managing a remote team is to have a team that is not productive or up to the task. Managers can only be at rest knowing that the members of the team can perform their tasks competently and complete them as scheduled. You therefore have to ensure that you’ve hired the right people for the position.
One important thing to remember is that not everyone can work productively as a remote worker. You need to consider their skills and their personality. Some of the traits you should look out for when hiring workers include:
- The ability to prioritize
There are many tasks in any given project that need to be completed. Often times, it can be confusing when trying to identify the important tasks as teams work remotely. The individual must be able to identify the most important tasks and prioritize them while ignoring the lesser ones.
You need to work with people you can rely on and trust to get their work done every day especially since you won’t be able to see them. You should therefore hire employees you can trust.
- Proficient communicator
Effective communication is vital for the success of the team. Remote teams use different tools of communication including emails, chats and private messages. Most communication is done in written form. It is therefore important to ensure that the members of the team are proficient written communicators. It should be easy to understand their written messages. They should also be prompt in their responses.
- Inclination to action
A person who is always looking for something meaningful to do is a great asset to any team. Even when the task list is empty they will look for something to do that will be beneficial to the project.
Where to Find Candidates for Your Remote Team
Hiring for any position is a challenge but hiring for a virtual team can prove to be even more difficult. You may never come face to face with the candidate. You’ll also have a wider pool to recruit from since you will be considering employees in any part of the world. It can be difficult comparing technical skills, education certificates, personalities and other competences from information on a computer screen.
The following are some great places to begin your search for your team:
- Your network
Have you worked with people in the past that you’d consider working with again? Do you know people who’ve worked with great employees in the areas that you want to recruit in? Begin to mobilize your network and let people know that you’re building a remote team. Your friends, partners, customers, family and acquaintances will most likely be happy to refer a friend or a colleague for the position.
- Social media
Social networks such as LinkedIn, AngelList and other professional websites can help you identify potential candidates. They are also a great place to spread the word that you’re hiring. Hopefully, your job post will be seen by the right people.
- Job boards
This should be your last resort. Although they can help you source candidates they often get you candidates that are job hunting and are looking for any job not necessarily yours. However, you may also come across great talent on job boards. They are therefore worth a try.
The Job Advert
It is important to clearly define the roles that you’re hiring for to ensure that you get relevant applications. The best way you can define a role is to try and fill that role yourself for a period of time such as a week. You’ll then be able to understand what type of person you need for this role and therefore write a better job description for it.
The Hiring Process
The members of the remote team will be a core part of your project. It is therefore vital that you choose the right people to fill the positions. They not only have to have the right set of skills but also be enthusiastic about the project and the tasks they’ll be assigned.
One great way of finding enthusiastic employees is by asking them to carry out extra tasks in their application. This may be to answer a few extra questions, apply in a unique way to showcase their abilities or to even carry out some tasks related to the position.
This not only showcases their skills but also shows just how much they want to work on the team. Enthusiastic people will be willing to go the extra mile to submit a great application.
With the applications in, the hiring process can begin.
- Sorting through applications
If you’ve done a good job in spreading the word about the positions, then you’ll have hundreds of applications to sort through. You can use a project management tool to do so. Sort the applications based on position applied for then read the applications and select a handful to contact.
Send out rejections to candidates that are not qualified for the position. This should be kind and sent out quickly. Use a template to make it easier.
- Video interviews
Carry out video call interviews with candidates. These can be synchronized to save time. It also helps when you need to compare candidates.
- Test finalists
Select finalists and put them to task on part of the project to test their skills and competencies. This will help you also get some insight into how they work and their personalities. This type of test can last a few hours to a day depending on the tasks.
- Hire the strongest candidates
Make an offer to the strongest candidates and once they accept it introduce them to the rest of the team.
Remember to take your time to hire the best for your project. Your team will determine whether your project succeeds or not.
Image: Becky Lai