Small Business Owner’s Guide to Hiring and Managing Remote Employees

  •  03/01/2021
  • By Andrea Collatz
  •  Employer

You’re managing the hiring process of a well-regarded prospective employee. There’s lots of paperwork to follow and boxes to check. Normally, it’s a tough job to manage, but now you’re working from home and so is the person you want to hire. What are your best options to find the right new hire when so many people are working remotely?

The remote-work movement is revolutionizing the way we do business. Out-of-office opportunities are highly-desired by the current workforce; in fact, 99% of people say they would choose to work remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their careers.

In 2019, nearly 4% of people worked at home half-time or more. However, Global WorkPlace Analytics predicts that to increase dramatically; their latest research projects that within two years, 30% of the workforce will work from home multiple days a week.

Employees aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from remote work. Small business owners have much to gain from work-from-home policies, but there are important steps to take before making the leap. Learn the advantages of allowing employees to work offsite, and discover key tips for hiring and managing a remote team:

No matter if you’ve met face-to-face or only via videoconference, hiring the right person requires more than a gut check. Screen prospective employees with an online background check from ShareAble© for Hires. Comprehensive reports from TransUnion deliver insight into someone's credit, criminal, and ID verification history.

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4 Benefits of Hiring Remote Employees

Many business owners are electing to bring on remote team members, and there are plenty of reasons to do so.

Four benefits of hiring remote employees: entice top talent, improve retention rates, boost productivity, save money

1. Entice top talent

According to LinkedIn, 72% of recruiters say that work flexibility (which includes remote work options) is an important factor for the future of HR and recruiting. As the gig economy grows, a bigger faction of the working population may be looking for remote opportunities; this is largely a result of shifting priorities.

One of those values: remote opportunities. According to INC., 75% of Millennials say that work from home policies are important. Employers looking to attract this subset of the workforce may need to consider incorporating flexible work options into their business model.

However, Millennials aren’t the only ones that desire some type of out-of-office opportunity. In today’s increasingly connected world, remote work is more feasible than ever before, especially following the global pandemic.

In order to attract high-quality employees, business owners and hiring managers must consider the desires of the current talent pool. Highly qualified individuals have their pick of the litter; if one of two competing job offers provides the opportunity for remote work, and the other doesn’t, this candidate may elect to accept the more flexible option. Forgoing this kind of work flexibility could mean losing your top candidate to a competitor who offers remote positions.

Opening up a job offer to remote employees also helps employers reach a wider talent pool. Hiring managers can cast a wider net; instead of focusing their search within a particular city or state, they can extend their hunt to the entire country (or globe) to find the perfect match for the company’s open position.

2. Improve retention rates

As remote work becomes the norm instead of the exception, companies that don’t accommodate this flexibility may struggle to keep in-house employees engaged.

In addition to enticing top talent, remote work opportunities can help you keep your best employees. Offering your current team the ability to work from home, even on a part-time basis, may help improve retention rates.

3. Boost productivity

There’s a prevalent fear that out-of-sight employees can’t possibly be completing the same amount of work as they would if in the office, under a manager’s supervision. But offering remote capabilities may actually help increase daily output.

According to an IWG Global Workplace survey, more than a third of business owners believe that their employees are 40% more productive as a result of work-from-home policies.

Percentage of respondents who report the rate of increase in productivity as a result of flexible work policies

With a remote work model, employees can create their own “perfect work environment.” Maybe it’s at the kitchen table with a standing desk, maybe it’s at a coffee shop where you can work alongside other gig employees. Offering your team the autonomy to create their ideal workspace may benefit your overall output.

4. Save money

Shifting to a remote work business model may also translate to big savings. Businesses can save an average of $11,000 annually per half-time telecommuter. Here are the key areas in which you might see savings:

  • Reduced absenteeism: Remote workers may be less likely to take time off when sick, reducing overall business health care costs and ensuring business stays on track. In addition, a remote team may be sick less often. Because working from open offices can increase the probability of sickness spreading, individuals who work from home tend to fall ill less frequently.
  • No rent or reduced rent: Even if just a portion of your team works remote, you stand to save big on office rent. With less in-office employees that need workspace, employers can opt for smaller offices than they’d be able to with an entirely on-site team.
  • Office equipment flexibility: There’s no set standard for the types of equipment employers should provide to remote employees. While many business owners elect to provide full office setups for remote employees to use at home, others follow a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy. A Cisco study found that 89% of businesses already allow employees to work on their own devices, which results in average savings of $3,150 per employee every year. This option isn’t right for every company and workflow, but it is something to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of hiring remote employees.

There are numerous benefits to be gained from remote workers, but there are key steps small business owners and hiring managers must take in order to take advantage of these benefits.

Tips on How to Hire Remote Employees

Hiring remote employees may require you to slightly alter your recruitment process. These four tips can help you source top talent.

1. Consider Your Digital Presence

While local employees may have heard of or seen your company, remote candidates will base their impression on your company’s website and overall digital reputation. If your online presence reflects poorly on your organization, via poor Glassdoor reviews, a broken website, or less-than-stellar customer testimonials, you may lose out on a potentially great hire.

Maintaining your brand’s digital presence can also save you money. Why? Job applicants are more likely to actively research your brand if they’ve already heard positive things about your company; this added awareness may help bring top candidates to you, without having to funnel budget into recruitment efforts.

2. Look for Remote Employees in the Right Places

The sourcing process for remote employees can follow similar parameters to that of in-house hires. Start by creating an effective job description, and make sure it’s published on the best job listing sites to expand your reach.

Depending on your industry and position criteria, you may need to consider niche outsourcing sites. For example:

You should also consider asking current employees if they’d like to refer any of their contacts to open positions. You might offer a monetary reward to entice your workers to participate. This reduces overall recruiting costs and may help improve retention rates in the long run.

3. Host Remote Interviews Correctly

The remote interview process can be very different than that of in-house hires. However, some of the hallmarks of the traditional interview process remain constant:

  • Pre-screen with phone interviews: After receiving applications, schedule phone interviews with your top candidates. During this initial screening call, you can weed out the less qualified applicants before asking the rest of your team to spend valuable working time interviewing.
  • Schedule video interviews: Once your initial pre-screening call is complete, set up video interviews. Body language and expression contain important tells to watch for when interviewing candidates, and there are plenty of software tools and services you can use to host these meetings, including Zoom, Webex, and Skype.

Conduct video interview conversations with candidates via laptop computer

  • Ask the right questions: Your interview questions may differ when screening candidates for a remote position. To excel in an offsite role, candidates should exhibit exemplary communication, organizational, and technological skills. Consider asking these remote work-specific questions:
    • Do you have prior experience working remotely?
    • How do you motivate yourself to work in a remote setting?
    • What do you bring to the table that would help you excel as a remote worker?
    • How do you best prefer to communicate with team members when working remotely?

Ask multiple members of your team to participate in the interview process; it’s important that communication between on-site and remote employees is streamlined from the start, as getting feedback from your prospective hire’s future colleagues is crucial.

4. Thoroughly Screen Remote Employees

Once you have promising candidates, be sure to thoroughly vet your applicants with a compliant employment screening service, like ShareAble for Hires. While remote employees may not work onsite, they still have access to important company resources, and in some cases, sensitive business information. In addition, if they work with other employees, onsite or remote, then their behavior and output could directly impact company morale.

The success of your company depends on finding the right team, and employment screening can be used to find the best hires. ShareAble for Hires background checks provide insight into your applicant’s:

  • Identity: Make sure your prospective hire is actually who they say they are by verifying their identity. As this individual will work offsite, ID reports can be used to verify their information is accurate, and help you spot cases of resume fraud.
  • Credit history: If your new hire will have access to company information, or if their position involves financial tasks, a credit report can provide essential information. Employers must run credit checks to reduce recruitment risk, confirm applicant-supplied information, and examine a prospective hire’s level of responsibility.
  • Criminal record: Even if you never meet your remote employee in person, it’s important to do your due diligence as an employer to protect your company, other employees, and clients. Background checks can provide insight into relevant criminal history, which is particularly important if your candidate will have access to sensitive information or interact (digitally or otherwise) with customers.

A pay-as-you-go pricing module for background checks makes it easy to screen only when you need it. ShareAble for Hires gives you access without the memberships or subscriptions. Thorough background checks provide important peace of mind, especially for employers relying on team members that work outside of the office.

Know you applicant

Tips on How to Manage Remote Employees

The work doesn’t stop once you’ve made your hire. Creating a team of remote employees comes with its own management challenges.

Here are a few tips to consider to help you efficiently manage your remote team in order to maintain productivity.

1. Create a Remote Work Policy

As you create a workflow for remote employees, set clear expectations and include these within your employee handbook. By establishing ground rules regarding working hours, communication requests, and project management, you can make sure your team gets started on the right foot and remains productive.

Consider including the following elements in your remote work policy:

  • Set expectations around frequency; are employees allowed to work from home always, or only on particular days of the week/month?
  • Put limitations on where remote employees are allowed to work. For example, positions that involve phone calls about sensitive information may not be allowed to work in crowded coffee shops.
  • Establish windows of work time to ensure the remote team is available to their colleagues. If you allow employees to create their own schedules, build processes for this.
  • Create guidelines around communication; when and how quickly should remote team members respond to supervisors and peers?

2. Equip Your Team for Success

Before taking on remote hires, make sure you have the resources they need to be productive. As mentioned above, some employers prefer to take the BYOD method, but many business owners prefer to provide their remote employees with full office setups, including computers, monitors, and other hardware necessities.

Man works from home office setup

Besides hardware, there are several tools supervisors can use to help manage remote employees while providing them with the tools required for success.

  • Project management tools: These systems help virtual (and in-house) teams organize documents and tasks, show progress, and stay on track. Asana and Trello are popular with businesses of all sizes.
  • Time management tools: Make sure the team is hitting targets with time-tracking services like Everhour or Teamwork. These software systems allow managers to pull up progress reports and examine where employees might be under-or overbooked.
  • Security tools: It’s also important to consider security when equipping your remote. Beyond pre-employment background checks, there are various security protocols that can help keep staff and company information safe. Keeper, a password tool, helps encrypt passwords to protect sensitive business and employee information from falling into the wrong hands.

3. Enhance Communication to Encourage Collaboration

When employees aren’t in the office with you, finding new methods of communication is key. There is an array of online tools small business owners can use to stay in contact with a remote team while maintaining productivity:

  • Slack: This instant messaging platform can be used by individuals, teams, and entire organizations
  • BambooHR: This automated onboarding software helps new remote employees get up to speed.
  • WooBoard: This platform allows managers to recognize employee achievements.
  • Zoom: This video conferencing application makes it easy to host virtual meetings in real-time.

Video teleconferencing can be an effective way for teams to communicate

There are plenty of ways to increase collaboration and build a sense of community across remote teams, and tools like the above can aid in that goal.

Establishing these lines of connection not only improves productivity; it helps build a strong, tightly-knit team. Letting employees work remotely doesn’t have to mean sacrificing company culture. You might consider hosting monthly virtual events, such as videoconference happy hours on Friday afternoon, or providing company-wide recognition through Employee of the Month awards. With so many tools at your disposal, there are plenty of ways to keep your team cohesive, regardless of location.

4. Consider Face-to-Face Meetings

Cultivating great working relationships is integral to employee retention. If possible, bring employees in for at least some in-office training during the onboarding process and schedule an occasional in-office time for local remote hires. To better promote manager-employee relationships, you can also schedule regular meetups; monthly lunches or check-ins can do wonders for working relationships, and a bit of face-to-face time can help remote employees feel better connected to your organization. If your team members are located further away, consider hosting annual all-hands meetings to gather everyone together.

5. Set Goals and Do Progress Reports

Just like all employees, remote workers need encouragement to grow. Improve retention rates and enhance engagement by setting goals with your remote hires that will help them achieve their own professional objectives while providing value to your company.

Ensuring your team is on the right track and working towards a common goal may provide measurable financial success. Use online goal-setting tools to track progress and do verbal weekly check-ins to ensure everything is moving as intended.

Screen Remote Workers Remotely

Work-from-home employees may not suit all companies, but there is much to gain for both business owners and workers if the right balance is struck. With many industries considering the efficacy of remote roles, it does appear that work from home policies are the way of the future.No matter if you implement a work from home policy or choose to have everyone in the office every day, make sure you’re assembling the right team by running an online background check. Find top talent with the help of reliable reports from ShareAble for Hires. With trusted TransUnion insights, your hiring process checklist can include accessing an applicant’s credit, criminal, and ID verification history without leaving your computer.

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Senior Marketing Analyst, TransUnion ShareAble

Andrea Collatz

She focuses on topics that empower small business owners through data, insights and industry best practices.

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