Working at home or everyone in an office?
My colleague Brian recently wrote a blog about the difficulties of hiring locally and thinking about relocating staff to work for you, with some handy tips and food for thought.
But, as I sit in my kitchen, working remotely, I question why you’d need to relocate people at all?
I am more productive working remotely. I’m not distracted by colleagues, I’m more focused, I spend my commute time working, plus lucky Brian gets more for his money and I’m less stressed. It gives me flexibility to fit in other commitments as well. I can lie in and work until midnight being a night owl! It’s not just about where you work, but when.
I know I’m lucky enough to have the type of job that fits well with remote working and obviously not all job roles would work.
But if you’re looking to hire for a role, it’s worth questioning whether you really need a bum on a seat in your office every day, or at all. The perfect candidate may live at the other end of the country and there are lots of tricks and tips you can use to make this work, both for them and for you.
The remote working type
The right hire is key here and opening up your job role to remote workers increases your talent pool.
Interview stage is the perfect opportunity to explore this. They may tick all the boxes for the job role but can they work effectively, remotely? Working remotely is a skill that the traditional office culture doesn’t teach us.
Look for evidence of independence, motivation and communication skills. Some people need to be around colleagues, with structure, close managing and routine. Remote working doesn’t need to be from their home – think about leasing a desk in shared office space if they need to be around people or in a work environment.
I bet you email your colleague the other end of the office more than you speak to them. I know some workspaces where the headphones go on at 9am and that’s it for the day…….no verbal interaction. So where’s the difference with a remote worker?
Let’s face it, it’s 2017 and anyone can work from anywhere! Use tech to make it work for both of you. There are great team messaging apps like Slack (other apps are available) that keep everyone in the loop, feeling engaged and able to respond to issues quickly. Use one of the myriad of video tools available to include everyone in daily/weekly meetings. Pick up the phone, check in and say hi as well.
I think one of the trickiest aspects is making sure your remote worker feels part of the company and gets the opportunity to get to develop relationships. Simply by being remote, exposure to your company culture is necessarily limited.
Use the tech outlined above. It’s useful for new hire induction to have them based in the office for a few days. Also think about having a team get together in person once a month/quarter and an annual company-wide week of activities where everyone is at head office. One of my clients uses this very effectively to team-build, motivate and develop relationships with remote workers.
Managing remote workers
As managers we tend to imagine two outcomes for remote staff: they either fail to manage their time properly and flounder or they develop a capacity for self-management (because nobody else will be managing them).
In reality it’s a fine line between the two. Just as remote working is a skill that the office culture doesn’t teach us, so is managing remote workers. It can be a steep learning curve discovering what works.
So be proactive: set expectations, acknowledge their work (publicly, so they don’t get forgotten), build trust, use video, make small talk in each ‘work’ call and get to know them. They need to know you’re there, but not policing them. Treat them the same as you would an office worker.
So, if you’re struggling to hire, have a think about whether remote workers might be one of the solutions. If you’re nervous about it, what about a trial period? You can scrap it if it doesn’t work for you. If you’re a start up then go for it: it’s the future of work and just think about the office space overheads you’ll save!
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