The idea of hiring someone from the other side of the world to work for your company can be daunting. The thought of being unable to drop by their desk and see what they’re working on at any given moment can be enough to put someone off hiring virtual employees, period; but the benefits of hiring someone who isn’t in your geographical vicinity far outweigh the potential downsides.

Not being limited to just your town or city means that you can tap into the greatest hiring pool imaginable, the world. Being able to hire linux developers from London, customer service operators from Canada, and distribution managers from Delhi, means that you have the potential to hire the absolute best people for the job, rather than just the best people within a 20km radius of your office.

What’s more, having employees spread out across the world means that your business can operate more cost efficiently. Remote workers can be managed as contractors, and require no 401ks, no employer contributed health insurance, and minimal overheads.

But while you’re most likely aware of the benefits of hiring remote employees, there’s probably something holding you back from taking the leap and hiring your first one – the thought, ‘are they really going to do the work?’.

If that’s something that’s in the back of your mind, don’t worry, it’s a common thought. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to make sure that your first remote hire is a success.

During the Hiring process:

When you’re hiring employees who are hundreds, or thousands of miles away, it’s important to have a clear indication of exactly what skills and experience you’re looking for. Often, the times where remote work relationships don’t work out, the problem is that hiring managers or entrepreneurs are unclear of what they need from their employee.

To avoid this, set clear guidelines for you to follow when you’re creating your job advert and when you’re vetting applications. Make a list of the most important skills and qualifications that your employee needs to have, and use this list to shape your search and to separate out great candidates from the rest.

1) Research

During the hiring process, look beyond a candidate’s resumé for indications that show that your potential employee actually matches your criteria – look for blog posts or thought pieces about their area of expertise, look for memberships of industry groups, and evaluate their side projects to discover just how well they execute.

Doing some extensive research into your potential candidates, beyond just reading their resumé and references, will help you to get a much better idea of what your potential remote employee is like as a worker. If you see that they consistently create small side projects that are well executed, then chances are, they will be able to work independently and execute well in your business.

2) Test

Once you’ve highlighted which candidates most closely match your criteria, one way to be sure to remove any lingering anxiety, and ensure that your candidates are as good as you think they are, is to set them a short work-related test.

Setting a test, whether it’s a live coding challenge, asking them to write a sample thought piece on a topic of your suggestion, or conducting a customer service role play, is a surefire way to let you know how your remote worker will perform if they are hired. Evidence suggests that almost 50% of job applicants embellish their qualifications in some way, so testing is a clear cut way of identifying which candidates are as great as they say they are.

Not only that, but testing also helps to remove any lingering doubts from your mind about how, and whether, your remote employee will work.

After the Hire:

After you’ve made your assessments, analysed the test results, and made your offer to your top candidate, there are several things you can do to ensure that your remote employee works as well as you would like them to.

We’ve spent the last 10 years managing teams of remote employees all over the world, and have found that there are several ways to ensure that you get the best results time after time;

  • Clarity is key – when setting projects, use the finest detail possible, and make sure to give your employee everything they need to complete the project successfully.
  • Establish clear deadlines – work with your employee to set clear, manageable, deadlines that offer enough time to complete the project.
  • Always be available – make it clear that you can be reached at any time to discuss the project. Being contactable will make it easier to avoid potential roadblocks or delays, and will make sure that the delivered project is exactly what you had in mind.
  • Check in regularly – keep up-to-date with your employee; this will help you to ensure that the project stays on course and within budget.

Alongside this, using technology solutions like Basecamp, Asana, or Slack can help you to communicate with your remote worker as if they were at the other end of your office (rather than hundreds of miles away). Keeping clear channels of communication is crucial to ensuring that projects come off without a hitch.

If you want the added peace of mind of being able to closely monitor what your remote employees are working on at any given moment, and to see the time they are spending on projects (and even on distracting apps like Spotify) consider investing in time tracking software like Hubstaff. These tools allow you to accurately view how much time is being spent working on a project, allow you to set time and budget limits (so that you can be sure that you don’t over spend), and make it possible for you to monitor your remote hire’s screen so that you can be sure that the hours they are billing you for are hours spent working productively.

Feeling better?

Fears about whether your new hire, who happens to be based on another continent, will actually work, are commonplace, and are probably similar to how you felt when you hired in-house employee #1; but rest assured that with a concerted effort to manage the hiring process carefully, and a commitment to being as clear and open as possible once you’ve hired, hiring remote employees becomes a painless process.

Brief Intro –

Benefits of hiring remote workers

  • the ultimate talent pool – the World 🙂
  • reduced overheads (no need for office space etc.)
  • ability to hire employees as contractors – no need for employer contributions for health insurance, 401k etc.
  • ability to hire in multiple timezones and have staff available at all times throughout the day

Define Your Ideal Characteristics –

Clearly outline what you are looking for in your first remote worker – this makes it easier, and less daunting, to find someone who is an ideal match for your company…

Sample characteristics –

  • Trustworthiness – ability to keep sensitive information secret, be discreet etc.
  • Highly Organized – track record of meeting deadlines, working within tight schedules etc.
  • Independence – you want someone who can use their initiative and someone who won’t fill your inbox with hundreds of emails

Use Your Network –

For your first hire, you’re probably looking for someone you can trust, and who is dependable. Reach out to members of your own professional network to ask for recommendations – contact people who you believe have good judgement, and whose opinion you value…

Sort Through Applicants Quickly –

Using your defined characteristics, sort through applicants quickly, and eliminate those who don’t meet the grade…

  • Use grading criteria to rank candidates
  • Invite high ranking candidates for Skype interviews
  • Make judgements about culture fit etc. based on video interviews

Conclusion –

Reinforce how if the process is managed properly, and expectations are clearly outlined, hiring a remote employee #1 doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. Stress the beneifts of reaching out to professional network for recommendations, and the merits of establishing clear criteria

Author: Dave Nevogt is the co-founder of www.hubstaff.com, a time tracking software for remote teams. Dave has founded several multi-million dollar businesses and lives in Indianapolis. He’s built successful remote teams for 12+ years and writes a blog series that teaches everything he does to grow a 100% remote company.

[Top Image Credit: Shutterstock]

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