Slideshow Top considerations when hiring remote employees

Published
  • July 31 2015, 11:34am EDT
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As attractive as teleworking may sound, blogger and author Sharyln Lauby says it takes a lot of planning and preparation to implement on the part of the employer. Companies should thoroughly discuss the terms of working remotely before launching such an initiative, she says, including work schedules, home offices, secure computer networks and job responsibilities. Lauby pulled together five ways employers can get the most out of their teleworking programs.

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Create common goals

Ensuring employees feel a part of the company’s goals is key, and doing that is one of the hardest tasks when creating a virtual workforce. “Whether it’s about new software features, a change in the company’s overall direction or just a menial everyday task, keeping everyone apprised can become a challenge when everyone is in different places and in different time zones,” says Morgan Norman, founder and CEO of social performance management company WorkSimple.

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Set individual goals and expectations

Clearly conveying goals and expectations is critical to the success of a remote workforce. “The way to manage any employee effectively, I believe, is to clearly establish goals and objectives, provide the right tools and resources required to do the job (including communication resources like policies, procedures, etc.), and communicating regularly for updates on progress, to share new information and just to maintain the relationships,” says Linda Pophal, a communications and management consultant with Strategic Communications LLC.

Regular processes can help convey some of these goals, such as regular phone/Internet conferences, required reports on a regular basis or the use of project management tools that allow everyone to track and report on activities, Pophal adds.

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Develop trust and accountability

Daily communication between employees and supervisors helps build a solid foundation of trust among a remote team. Allison O’Kelly, CEO of virtual professional staffing firm Mom Corps, says her company maintains such a culture through a “Results-Only Work Environment,” or ROWE, which allows employees to work flexibly as long as they meet key objectives.

“Often when companies hear about ROWE, they worry about losing control," O'Kelly explains. "Rather, it is a shift in focus from controlling when, where and how people work to hold people accountable for results.” She advises providing additional training to supervisors and managers to help expand virtual communication and motivation skills.

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Overcome isolation

A lack of consistent communication could lead remote employees to feel isolated. “While most of our team thrives and truly enjoys the remote environment, it is something that needs to be continually monitored,” says Dan Silmore, vice president of marketing for online training platform Mindflash.com. “Is the employee staying motivated? Are they happy? Have they been particularly quiet on Yammer or Skype lately?"

Tracy McCarthy, senior vice president of human resources at talent management software company SilkRoad technology, adds that laying down a solid schedule and policy for communication keeps collaboration flowing.

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Plan regular communications

Successful organizations communicate well, regardless of where their employees are located. Being able to work through challenges is core to having a thriving remote work team. Jillian Snavley, vice president and senior recruiting manager at PNC Financial Services Group, believes that a direct approach is required when managing employees remotely: “Managers should set expectations and be more intentional with remote employees. And remote employees need to be just as candid.”

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