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Every organization needs to hire the best employees they can get. Many businesses need specialized skills that are already scarce, yet the talent available locally is already tapped out. It’s particularly tough for SMBs with strong technical cores, who compete with deep-pocketed multinationals for the same customers, and the same talent.
A remote workforce levels the playing field for businesses needing to think and act globally, but on a local budget. It provides access to larger talent pools and offers a powerful incentive to join your team. SMBs can reach top talent and assemble high-performance teams, often more cost-effectively, and with higher productivity results, than an in-house staff. A remote workforce also offers the flexibility of contract work, which may suit both the organization and worker better than an employment agreement.
But to reap the benefits, it takes the right people doing the right kind of work.
Match the work to the workforce
A remote workforce is well-suited for complex project-based work which requires deep and diverse competencies. Remote work typically requires intensive and sustained individual concentration, along with frequent (though sometimes irregular) collaboration.
What are the characteristics that make up an effective remote workforce? Research shows that high performing remote teams share two sets of competencies—what researchers call 1) Leading and Deciding, and 2) Analyzing and Interpreting.
Leading and Deciding refers to taking charge of getting work done. Remote workers initiate action, set and pursue goals diligently, and anticipate needs. Since the work is largely autonomous, remote workers take responsibility for their outcomes and aggressively seek out the guidance and resources to be productive.
The other competency for remote teams is Analyzing and Interpreting. A remote workforce gets to the core of a matter very quickly and excels at problem-solving. Workers strive to make the complex simple and turn vagueness into clarity. A high-performing remote team communicates very effectively and is proficient in using technology both as a communication enabler and a force multiplier.
Managers of remote teams need to have effective methods of measuring and managing productivity, along with mechanisms for being visible to their remote staff. They need to pay special attention to providing their remote staff with top-shelf communication technology.
Research has demonstrated that communication technology enhances remote worker job satisfaction, and reinforces the personality traits of openness and agreeableness, both of which play a big part on making them effective as players on a distributed team.
What to look for in hiring remote workers
The best remote workers tend to be entrepreneurs themselves, and are already likely to be self-starting and conscientious, two of the most desirable characteristics of remote workers. They anticipate issues and are capable of managing themselves, their time, and their tasks. Prior experience working remotely or in an agile environment are good indicators of remote workers who can hit the ground running.
Look for a person whom you can trust (and who will also trust you). That goes beyond just being reliable and handling sensitive information judiciously. Trust is also the glue that holds a mutual working relationship together in the absence of in-person cues, or the benefit of catching someone in the hallway for a chat.
Concise, effective communication is a must. Top-quality remote workers are especially mindful of keeping others informed about project status, availability, and current focus. Likewise, they expect managers to keep the team apprised of what is happening next and how to be reached. Look also for an engaging phone and video conferencing style, someone with whom you always look forward to having a call.
Along with communications savvy, you also want people with tech-savvy. Focus on proficiency in cloud storage, collaboration, project management, issue tracking, content curation, and business analytics.
Tap your networks to find remote workers
The first places to start sourcing a remote workforce are your communities of practice, user groups, blog subscribers, and LinkedIn followers. They are already plugged into your brand and have opted-in to receiving communication from you. Most likely they are keeping current with your products, business lines, customers, and industry trends.
However, that might not be quickest. For some organizations, accessing a job board specializing in various types of remote workers is more feasible. Most offer attractive pricing plans suited toward the needs of smaller organizations. Others might wish to conduct their own hiring campaigns and can take advantage of online services offering free job postings.
Think like a venture capitalist when hiring a remote workforce
One of the maxims of venture capital is you invest in people, not ideas. Think of your business as a venture capital firm, and the remote workforce as a venture portfolio. Remote workers are the entrepreneurs you want to invest in. They need your funding and sometimes your guidance to continue their work. But they are also seasoned, highly motivated professionals, and don’t need to be voted on. Give them all the resources they need, and then give them a lot of runways.
About the author: MightyRecruiter is an intuitive, comprehensive, and transformative recruiting solution. Source passive candidates, track and manage applicants, post free jobs, access a resume database, and hire the most relevant candidates for your jobs, all at no cost.