Now that we’re one year into the pandemic, you’ve likely made a lot of adaptations for your current employees’ workstyles and physical surroundings. But maybe there’s been natural turnover in your organization or you’re ready to grow your team as we accelerate out of the lockdowns. In this post we’ll do a deep dive into remote hiring and onboarding best practices, with some specific examples of how Hum has implemented these in our remote-first culture in the past six months. If this isn’t your first remote (or hybrid) rodeo, but you want to learn how to nurture your remote team, check out my next post on fostering a strong remote culture.
When you’re ready to hire think to yourself, “how should a remote job description differ from an in-person job?” Read on for a few points to consider.
Time Zone Requirements for your Remote Staff
Remote employees can work from anywhere, but do you really want them to be everywhere? At Hum, most of our clients are in the eastern time zone. With the large gap between our colleagues in Europe and Asia we knew we couldn’t easily add someone from mountain or pacific time to the mix. We’re very clear in job postings that the roles require regular meetings between 9 am -1 pm ESTin order to maximize the overlap in other time zones. We didn’t filter out applications from the western time zones, but we were explicit about our expectation for overlapping hours. If someone is an early bird or could benefit from early hours, we didn’t want to preclude the right person from being hired from the job just because they were west of the Mississippi.
Before you open the role to international applicants, you should talk with your finance team to see if there are tax or legal implications for having employees outside of the United States. At Hum, we have team members in Europe and Asia, but on paper they’re contractors because that was financially and legally less messy for the company and the employee. Our aim is to hire in the US, but give our current employees the flexibility to travel and live where they need to.
Plan for a Broad Candidate Pool
Here’s a cautionary tale, to show that even I make mistakes along the way. At Hum, we recently hired a Business Analyst.We had over 500 applications in 7 days, which was overwhelming to say the least. Because our search was not centered around a particular metropolitan region, it garnered a lot more attention than we anticipated.
When we do this again, we need to rethink how we attract people through job search portals. We’ll add more required screening questions and develop a descriptive title.
Offering Competitive Salaries for Remote Teams
When you can hire from anywhere, how do you know what makes a competitive salary for someone from Buffalo vs Phoenix? If you have a hub or home office, you could center your salary offers around that market. This makes sense if you intend to grow your team from the local talent pool and expect people to rotate in and out of the office. Or if you’re a more disperate team, you could use national salary averages from sites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor.
At Hum, we take the latter approach. Even though we have a small hub of people in Charlottesville, Virginia, as we grow the team we’ll be adding from other zip codes and want to compensate people on the same scale. We’re upfront about the salary figures. They’re included in the job posting so there’s no surprises further down the line.
Once you’ve got the right person for the job, you must adapt your onboarding experience for a remote environment.
Consider a Technology Stipend
If you’re on a permanent remote team, there’s no need to carve out time on the first day for a tour of the office and other elements of the physical space. But what about the “stuff” they need to do the job? Having an email address and a computer log in on day 1 is no longer the baseline expectation for your IT systems and infrastructure. One way to approach this is with a technology stipend, which can be used to purchase the IT and home office equipment they need to be successful. For me that would mean a really nice laptop and a new exercise ball to replace the old kitchen chair I had been using. It’s up to each employee to choose how they spend that money, but consider laying out expectations and providing examples of the equipment everyone else on the team owns. This stipend is normally paid in full to them as soon as they’re enrolled in the payroll system, and as a result those items are theirs to keep.
This is a bit radical if you’re used to a massive on site IT department who tracks and updates each piece of technology, or a facilities department who maintains your cubicle and chairs. But it makes a lot of sense. You may not be interested in having employees ship computers and furniture back when they leave the company. Where would you store all of these things if your office is your home? This policy can also alleviate some headaches for your CFO who would have to manage the ongoing inventory and valuations of each item owned by the company.
Introducing New Remote Employees to the Team
Building an inclusive remote work culture hits an integral point when you’re making first introductions around your organization. If you think day one in person is hard, it’s even harder to manage virtually, when body language and other non verbal points of communication may be missed. To build strong relationships with new team members, consider developing Personal User Manuals. While the name may be a little eye roll inducing, this document enables all of your cards to be put on the table, establishing clear expectations around workstyles and communication preferences from day one. In a physical office environment, a lot of this information could have been absorbed in passing, by sharing a cubicle wall, or shared casually while refilling coffee in the breakroom. Those options don’t exist for remote teams. The information you share doesn’t have to be extremely personal, though it could be! But it should help your colleagues better understand what makes you tick, how you prefer to receive information and make decisions, and simpler things like your working hours.
You’ve likely learned that working remote is not a 1:1 translation to working in an office; and the same applies for remote hiring and onboarding. If you treat them in the same way you run the risk of having an all star candidate in the interview but a lackluster employee in your team meetings. Screening for the aptitude to succeed in a remote environment, in addition to the ability to connect and drive relationships over video calls are essential components that didn’t exist in job interviews for most companies in the past.
If you liked this post and what to explore more remote work best practices, be sure to check out the full series.