A few years ago, remote work was a bit of a professional anomaly. Perhaps you knew a friend of a friend who worked from home or maybe you had a family member who only went into the office three days a week. Back then, remote work was something most of us had heard of, but few had experienced it first-hand.
But then COVID-19 rolled in, and we exchanged our desktops for laptops, our conference rooms for Zoom rooms, we transformed kitchen tables into shared office spaces, and almost overnight we became a remote workforce. And a really productive workforce at that.
Born out of necessity, remote work has blossomed into one of the most highly sought quality-of-life benefits among today’s workforce. So, what do employers have to lose when they require employees to return to office? Well, as it turns out, a lot.
WHY HIRE REMOTE WORKERS?
In today’s job market where talent has the upper hand, remote work is often considered a non-negotiable. The first question many candidates ask recruiters is if the role is remote. And if the answer is no, that is often the end of the conversation.
Employers who want to recruit today’s top creative, marketing, and digital talent must be open to remote work because if the majority of your competitors are offering some type of remote work option, and your company won’t budge, you now only have access to a small fraction of that market, substantially shrinking your pool of potential talent.
And when we talk about this pool of potential talent, we don’t just mean prospective candidates within your general geographic area. When employers are open to hiring remote workers, they can extend their reach nationally.
Many candidates now prioritize work-life balance and flexibility over a range of other factors, including compensation. And some candidates are choosing smaller shops offering remote work over companies with brand-name prestige that are still requiring in-person work.
Need hiring help?
WHEN YOU HIRE REMOTE, YOU SAVE TIME
When you’re open to hiring remote workers, you not only get to pick from a larger talent pool, you increase the likelihood that your open jobs will be filled quickly.
Today, companies insisting on full-time in-person work are finding it increasingly difficult and time-consuming to fill those roles. This is true even among companies with a lot of brand prestige and higher compensation.
Time is money and if you’re unwilling to hire remote workers, the time you spend trying to find the right fit for your in-person role could have been spent hiring, onboarding and training a remote position, or in some cases several remote positions.
WHAT ABOUT HYBRID WORK ARRANGEMENTS?
After more than a year of fully remote work, many companies started to introduce hybrid work schedules. And while a hybrid option might be better to a potential candidate than no remote option at all, for many it’s not much more of a selling point because employees are still required to go into the office, even if just occasionally.
Hybrid work schedules might open your access to the talent pool more than a fully in-person role, but requiring any in-person work will inevitably limit your options, especially to that vast national pool of talent.
However, if the only kind of remote work your company can offer is hybrid, consider giving your employees the flexibility to choose which days they come in. When it comes to hybrid options, we have seen an uptick in candidate interest when those companies allow employees to pick 10 days each month to come in based on their own needs. Another way to offer more flexibility is extending summer Fridays throughout the year.
HIRE REMOTE AND STILL FOSTER A “COLLABORATIVE COMPANY CULTURE”
One of the biggest reasons companies say they’re hesitant to hire remote workers is that it inhibits the ability to foster a collaborative company culture. But that doesn’t have to be the case, especially if leadership is willing to adjust management styles. Below are some examples of how managers can successfully lead remote teams.
Focus heavily on the onboarding experience. When you hire remote workers, creating a collaborative company culture must start early. The onboarding process is incredibly critical when hiring remote workers. Especially in this candidate-driven market, employees are job-hopping at a more frequent pace, so if they don’t feel supported within the first couple months, they’re out.
Be direct. Managing remote workers requires clear and direct communication. This doesn’t mean micromanaging. Managers need to be specific and clear in their expectations and priorities, “I need this by this date, once that is complete you can move on to this.” If your employees are getting their work done by the specified deadlines and attending any required meetings, it should not matter what time of the day they log in and off as long as they’re working the agreed-upon number of hours.
Remember that trust is key. Adding to the above point about direct communication, trusting your employees is just as critical. Because you can’t see them day-to-day as you would in an office setting, it is important to convey trust and focus on growth. Instead of drifting toward negative assumptions such as, “Are they working a full eight hours?” or “Are they where they say they are?” focus on performance and output. “Are they beating deadlines and exceeding expectations? When they encounter a problem are they able to strategize a solution?”
Trusting your employees (and acknowledging their good work) is a key part of building a supportive and collaborative company culture.
Check in one-to-one frequently. This is important of any manager, but especially when you manage a remote team. Establish a weekly check-in to make sure expectations and priorities are clear. But the conversation doesn’t always need to be about work. Allowing time to just get to know your new hires will help build rapport, and also fosters a relationship that will make remote workers feel supported in their day-to-day.
Engage virtual meeting attendees. The virtual meeting can be both a blessing and a curse in remote work, so it’s important to be strategic when it comes to timing and frequency. Weekly team meetings to go over big-picture goals and to-do lists can be helpful so the entire group can not only better get to know one another but also better understand what is on their colleagues’ plates. Allow time at the start of the meeting for some banter beyond weekend activity recaps. It can help to ask pointed questions to help some of your less vocal employees come out of their shells (“What was the best thing you ate recently?”). Or let each team member pick a new question to start the meeting each week. Examples: “What’s your favorite movie? What’s your go-to gas station snack? How do you eat your bagel?” Keep it light and allow for some laughs before you get down to discussing business.
If you can, meet in person on occasion! If your budget allows for it, plan optional off-site team-building trips. If you have interested team members who live in the same city, give them the opportunity to meet in person for dinner or bowling, on the company dime.
Take advantage of virtual socialization. Another lesson learned from the pandemic was how we can celebrate together, apart. Consider a virtual dinner party where you send employees a gift card to have dinner delivered. Or, maybe, you plan a virtual trivia night and send your staff a basket of game-night snacks to enjoy while the group exercises their frontal cortex. Again, these events should be optional for employees, so they don’t feel bogged down with another meeting, even a social one. But it is helpful to give employees interactive incentives, like the examples here, to encourage participation.
HIRING REMOTE WORKERS? WE CAN HELP!
Finding the right fit for your team takes time and effort, especially in this candidate-driven market. 24 Seven recruiters have access to a large pool of professionals in the marketing, creative and digital space across the country. We are experienced with the range of nuances that come with hiring remote workers and are ready to help you find skilled candidates now!