Building Quality Remote Teams–An Interview Justine Shu, We Work Remotely

3 min read

2020 has taken a bit of a turn and remote work is one of the detours.

If you weren’t already considering hiring remote workers, this probably threw a huge curveball in your hiring plans for the rest of the year. Luckily, technologies for remote hiring and successful remote work have been in play for a few years now and can be easily implemented into your processes.

With new opportunities to work remotely for 2020 and beyond, remote workers are not to be ignored. Building an intentional remote workforce can bring in the best talent from around the globe.

Justine Shu, Marketing & Community Manager at remote job board We Work Remotely, shares her perspective on how the remote workforce will evolve with the benefits of hiring remote workers and tips on how to keep hiring moving while remote.

With the onset of a new global work from home policy during COVID-19, do you believe more companies will adopt a robust work from home program?

It depends on how companies are responding to being thrust into suddenly working from home. There’s a big difference between remote work by necessity and intentionally building a remote team indefinitely. Many companies are challenged with learning how to manage a distributed team. While that's common for all remote companies, being forced due to circumstances out of your control is another layered challenge. 

That being said, offering work flexibility as a benefit was already growing in popularity before COVID-19, and there likely will be a bigger push for it from employees after this crisis subsides. After the adjustment period, managers will hopefully come to see the benefits of remote work -- increased productivity, saving costs on overhead, etc. -- if there’s something positive that can come out of this, that might be it.

Do you think remote hiring will increase beyond the COVID-19 crisis as companies can now see the benefits?

It’s hard to say. In the interim period, employers might be more focused on shifting their current employees into remote vs hiring more remote employees right away. It will likely be a slow process, which in the long run, may lead to remote hiring in the long term.

How can recruiters continue their best hiring efforts while being remote? What do they need to change?

I’m sure everyone is just figuring it out as they go, but I think introducing another added layer of empathy into their process would be helpful right now. It’s a hard time for everyone. Perhaps being even more personable in their communication and incorporating automated responses that offer confirmation and reassurance to the job seekers. I also think offering additional resources for job seekers would be valuable -- how to proceed in job hunting during this “unprecedented time”. For their clients, reaching out to them and offering resources like response strategies and templates for their businesses. I really believe that helping out where we can be impactful because we’re all in this together.

Do you believe that some companies who were in office prior to COVID, will now become remote or mostly remote?

I sure do hope so! But again, it’s hard to say right now. While remote work is a benefit that many employees value, many organizations can’t operate as they normally would due to lack of the technology infrastructure and remote experience. We are seeing many remote-focused tools step up their game, and I think many companies are realizing the benefits of this digital transformation that has been evolving so quickly. I think there will be more companies that will be remote as a result of COVID compared to if COVID didn’t happen at all, but it will be a gradual process. There’s also a difference between being Remote-First vs Remote-Friendly, and I think at first, companies will transition through the latter first.

What are some of the benefits of hiring remote workers?

  • Your candidate pool is larger when hiring

The chances of finding the perfect candidate are increased because your candidate pool is automatically larger.

  • It’s easier to attract talent

Offering work flexibility or being a remote company automatically ups your competitive advantage.

  • It’s financially sound

Having a distributed team allows companies of all sizes to cut costs by reducing expenses like office space, supplies, utilities, and employee accommodations.

  • It’s known to increase productivity and decrease stress levels

Just like how public education systems aren’t geared to fit all students, the 9-5 structure doesn’t work for all adults. Remote work encourages employees to work on their own terms, instilling a culture of trust, which motivates employees to work smarter and provide quality work.

Employees who choose their own work environment to avoid the stress of commuting and common office distractions such as background noise, constant interruptions, and non-work-related conversations.

  • It reduces turnover

In an interview with Here & Now, Scott Mautz, a former executive at Procter & Gamble observed that on top of increased productivity, employee turnover decreases by 50% when the work from home option is available.

Despite all of the articles painting millennials and Gen-Z as being fickle, these generations actually show deep loyalty to companies who are value-driven and deliberately provide meaningful opportunities for training and professional development. They’ll account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025, so it wouldn’t hurt to listen with an open mind.

In more cases than not, if you give people the responsibility to manage their own time and get their work done, they tend to meet or exceed your expectations. Treat people like the adults that they are.

What are some of the best ways to incorporate remote workers into your company?

Create a remote work policy so that everyone in the organization is on the same page and understands the company’s expectations.

One of my favorite pieces of advice is from the founders of Basecamp, David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, “Level the playing field.” 

One of the biggest challenges for employers that work for remote-friendly organizations is being seen and feeling included. One way to tackle this is in meetings, instead of having everyone in-house sit around the table in the boardroom, make the meeting virtual for everyone. Don’t just make chat protocol available for those working remotely, make it the protocol for everyone. Level the playing field.

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