Should you recruit with remote workers in mind?

Denise Martinez Blog

The economy since the Great Recession has changed remarkably. On one hand, there has been a surge freelance and contractual workers. On the other, companies have witnessed a shift toward knowledge-based business structures, where manual labor is fairly limited and the main tool employees use is a computer. What seems like a natural evolution stemming from these two realities is the rise in the number of remote employees.

However, the situation is far more complicated than it appears on the surface. There are a number of questions employers must face when considering how to either implement a work-from-home policy or recruit individuals who will do well in this organizational setup. The extent to which businesses embrace this transition will ultimately inform any recruitment strategy to locate the best talent who can thrive as a remote worker.

In support of a virtual workforce
Initially, the idea of having to manage a group of workers who aren’t on premises can throw off some employers. There’s a sense of comfort in having all staff members working in the same location so that they can form closer relationships and coalesce as a team. There’s also the assumption that employees’ attentions may stray when they work at home and put downward pressure on productivity. Yet, recent research continues to affirm that the majority of remote employees get more done when they aren’t in the office.

According to a February survey conducted by cloud technology firm ConnectionSolutions, 77 percent of remote workers said they were more productive outside of the office. Furthermore, 3 in 10 said they were able to complete more of their tasks in less time. Nearly one-quarter of off-site employees indicated they were willing to work additional hours to ensure all necessary duties are fulfilled. Even more surprisingly, more than half – 52 percent – of these individuals feel less compelled to take time off.

Obviously, there are benefits for the employer should they choose to implement a remote worker policy. With digital tools like email, instant messaging and video conferencing, there are fewer barriers for offsite workers to perform their jobs than in the past. However, recognizing what these individuals will need – other than a computer and an Internet connection – is critical to ensuring your company sees these types of benefits.

Clarify how you’ll accommodate remote workers
Employers interested in leveraging the positive aspects of mobile employees must be sure they’re conveying the right messages when they begin recruiting. According to Harvard Business Review, one of the biggest draws for remote employees is the convenience of being able to accomplish all of their work without having to head into the office.

One question that you may need to ask is whether your organization is willing to provide the technology necessary to perform at a high level. Some candidates may assume the company will provide equipment that they can take home and even wireless Internet connectivity. If this is the case, it’s critical that the technology consistently functions well. A laptop that crashes all the time is only going to limit the remote worker’s productivity.

If staff members are expected to provide their own tools to connect and get their work done, then you must be certain this is understood before the first interview. Otherwise, both the employee and candidate will be put in an awkward situation.

Accordingly, it’s important to identify candidates who have demonstrated the ability to work in a remote capacity early on in the recruiting process. The best applicant tracking system will give recruiters the chance to target specific keywords to find individuals who a history of successfully working offsite. At the same time, recruiters can effectively market the position to job seekers with the skills necessary to flourish working off-site.

Jobscience | Beyond the Applicant Tracking System

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