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Have Computer, Won't Travel: Finding the Best Remote Workers

October 16, 2014 by

Unified communications has had a huge impact on countless businesses. Obviously, the technology delivers a whole range of improvements, from reduced costs to more collaborative employees. But in some ways, its impact is even greater.

The rise of remote workers is a case in point. UC has made it possible for employees to work effectively even when outside the office. That has big implications for business leaders. Most significantly, younger professionals are not only aware of remote work, but they actually expect to have the ability to telecommute part-time or full-time. Business leaders that don't recognize and adapt to this trend will have trouble attracting and retaining the most talented up-and-coming employees.

Yet remote work is still a fairly new concept, and it presents challenges for organizations, not the least of which is the issue of hiring. How can you tell whether a new worker will remain productive and responsible when based outside the office?

Here are a few tips.

Background Matters

Naturally, hiring managers are always going to look at potential employees' backgrounds before they make a decision. But when it comes to employees who will be operating off-site, their backgrounds become even more important. To employ a remote worker, you need to trust that that employee can operate without the normal level of in-person supervision and oversight.

An applicant's background can tell you a lot about whether he or she is likely to thrive under these conditions. The key thing to look for is demonstrated responsibility. You want your remote workers to have handled positions in the past where they were largely operating independently. Freelancing and other self-employed experience is a good indicator that the worker can be trusted to remain productive even if he or she is telecommuting.

Reasons Why

Another major factor to take into account is the applicant's motivation. Why does he or she want to work remotely? Don't assume - you should actually ask candidates to explain their reasoning.

In some cases, those reasons won't be particularly satisfactory. If applicants say they want to sleep in later or don't like to work with other people - well, those are red flags. Applicants that say they will be more productive by eliminating their commutes and creating their own schedules, on the other hand, may be better suited for remote work.

Trial and Error

Most importantly, business leaders need to closely track remote worker performance, especially at the outset. For these arrangements to work, managers need to ultimately trust their employees - but this trust needs to be earned. It's wise to keep fairly close tabs in the early stages until the remote worker proves his or her productivity and responsibility.

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