For people who’ve built careers in the nebulous field of digital business, it can sometimes feel as though the whole world has gone remote. In truth, of course, the progress of remote operation has varied significantly across nations and niches. Some industries can function remotely but haven’t quite accepted it yet, while others just can’t: from store assistants and hairdressers to factory workers and farmers, there are people for whom it isn’t an option.
What this means in the context of this piece is that hiring employees remotely hasn’t yet become the default option, and there are plenty of companies that have yet to try it. And since you’re reading this piece, there’s an excellent chance that you’re in a leadership position at a company (perhaps even the head) and curious about this prospect. Could hiring remote employees take your business to the next level?
Well, it’s entirely possible — but if you’re going to take that road, you need to be aware of the challenges that lie ahead of you. In this post, we’re going to answer the titular question and offer some general tips for hiring remote employees. Let’s get started.
The first big factor here is how remote an employee is going to be, because there’s a huge difference between someone working from home a few miles away from the office and someone working in another time zone. If you’re only interested in candidates close enough to make occasional office appearances, the process should be relatively straightforward: you’ll have a modest pool of applicants and a path ahead with few obstacles.
If you’re looking farther afield, though, things are more complicated. Hiring someone who lives on the other side of the country is tricky. You need a fully-remote interviewing process, of course, and you may need to factor in regional laws and regulations (it depends on your country). And then there’s the option of hiring overseas.
Though there’s no practical reason why you can’t have an effective full-time employee who lives on the other side of the planet, it does introduce various issues. Most notably, it requires you to become familiar with local laws and have a legal entity in place to hire them. This isn’t quite as awkward as it sounds (more on this next), but it’s certainly worth keeping in mind.
Outsourcing parts of the recruitment process isn’t exactly new, but some companies still like to keep things in-house. If you’re in that position, bear in mind that hiring remote employees without any support can be a nightmare, especially if you’re used to having in-person contact. If you want to proceed, try to keep things as simple as possible, and make absolutely sure you have full confidence in a prospective hire before you sign on the dotted line.
If you’re happy to work with outside services, though, you can make the process pretty easy. Skillmeter can make it hugely simpler to assess skills remotely, of course, allowing you to efficiently tell which candidates are best positioned to deliver success. Since finding the right people is a vital part of the process, this isn’t something you can take lightly.
And the reason I noted that having a legal entity in place to hire someone overseas isn’t as awkward as it sounds is that employer of record services exist. If you’re not sure what an employer of record is, here’s the gist: if you want to hire someone in Italy but don’t operate there, you can have a company with a legal entity registered in Italy hire them on your behalf, ultimately handling all the legal roadblocks for you.
You may have a limited talent pool when you’re looking to fill an office-based position, but you also have reduced competition. Someone who prefers to work in such an environment will only have so many options near their home, of course. When you open things up to remote employees based around the world, you end up competing with everyone.
Due to this, you need to have a strong idea of what you’re prepared to offer. How high will you take salaries? Which employee perks can you guarantee? How can you reshape your business to make it maximally appealing to your target prospects? The more you can sweeten the deal, the easier you’ll find it to win over top talent — but if you can’t compete effectively with industry-standard employee packages, you’ll have no chance.
Finding and attracting talent is tough, yes, but that isn’t the big stumbling block for many companies. Complications tend to arise during the onboarding process: you’ve reached an agreement with the new hire, so you need to turn them into a reliable member of the team, and that’s easier said than done (particularly if they live overseas).
At a minimum, you’ll need to add them to payroll, get them a secure work device (most likely a laptop), run them through the software setup, add them to the necessary accounts, make them familiar with your preferred systems, introduce them to their colleagues, and establish their working hours (keeping time zone differences in mind). Handling all of that at a distance is time-consuming and potentially frustrating.
This is why you need a slick onboarding process that you can repeat with every new hire. Whether you set this up internally or have a third-party service manage the onboarding for you, ensure you make it as convenient as possible, as it’ll save you a lot of effort.
Wrapping up, then, how easy it is to hire a remote employee depends entirely on the circumstances. If you take advantage of third-party services and set up a strong onboarding process, you shouldn’t have any issues — so do just that!