The rise of work from home (WFH) was one of the most revolutionary changes to working life that was thrown up by the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost overnight, millions of workers around the world were forced to swap their offices for home spaces in order to maintain their output–collaborating digitally with colleagues remotely in the process. As HR faces up to WFH becoming the new normal, new essential considerations are required when hiring new employees.

Adapting to the new reality of recruiting on an entirely remote basis can be a difficult challenge to overcome. The change of working environment calls for an entirely new approach to recruitment and a modified strategy for onboarding. 

Today, HR professionals will need to be more adept at conducting video interviews and hosting online assessments, as opposed to communicating with candidates on a purely face-to-face basis. 

Is Transitioning to Remote Work Worth it?

For some businesses, the act of transitioning to remote operations can be a daunting prospect. However, it can be seen as an (albeit rapid) acceleration of an emerging trend of offices operating in a remote manner. Prior to the pandemic, many businesses were engaging in meetings with colleagues from all around the world whilst communicating instantly via email–all without the necessity of actually entering an office. 

The biggest hurdle for businesses to overcome revolves around the abolishment of traditional working patterns, and the comfort of in-house routines. The Covid-19 pandemic quickly disrupted the traditional 9-to-5 office work patterns in favor of something altogether more flexible. 

‍Now they’ve had a taste of what more flexible remote work looks like, employees have grown to expect the same levels of comfort whilst undertaking the same workloads that they’d become accustomed to in the office. 

(Image: Bloomberg)

As Bloomberg data shows, both the majority of workers and managers alike expect more widespread remote work in the future. 

Furthermore, studies have suggested that employees are actually more productive when working from home, as opposed to within office environments. Apollo Technical notes that WFH employees generally spend 10 minutes fewer being unproductive per day, and are as much as 47% more productive when working remotely. 

Beyond this performative advantage, there’s the competitive edge that businesses gain by offering candidates that coveted flexibility of WFH. This makes it essential for decision makers to consider implementing some work from home options when advertising for new vacancies. 

With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at some of the key considerations that employers must make when hiring talent in the age of work from home:

1. Consider which Roles are Ripe for WFH

Your first challenge is to highlight which roles within your organization can support WFH models. Job roles like that of developers, programmers, web designers, digital marketers, and additionally call center roles can all be performed on a remote basis–with many more capable of being undertaken from home. 

Although many businesses will invariably hold roles that require individuals to operate in the same location, collaborative tools have made it far more straightforward to communicate effectively on a remote basis

Generally speaking, roles that involve high levels of screen time, where essential interactions can occur over the phone or digitally, are the most likely to be compatible with WFH hires. 

In the case of hiring freelancers, many candidates now seek to list their services on specialist job boards like People Per Hour, Toptal, Guru, and Upwork–and it can be beneficial for HR specialists to review these online positions to see whether they can transfer to their organization’s intended structure.

2. Utilize Effective Hiring Tools

Although making the transition into remote hiring can be daunting for HR professionals who have become accustomed to operating in brick and mortar surrounds, technology is on hand to ease the process of automating candidate communication, scheduling interviews, and screen applications. From posting jobs to interviewing and sourcing potential recruits can be simplified with the right range of tools. 

These management tools can be used to vet applicants, arrange them, and even automatically generate a ranking system based on suitability. Dashboards can be utilized for job openings and real-time metrics can indicate what’s going on and when within the hiring process. 

It’s even possible to use recruitment apps like Vincere, Recruiterflow, and Breezy to help with hiring strategies, screening methods, and sharing candidate evaluations. Artificial intelligence is on-hand to pick the candidates that hold the highest potential. 

These tools can be particularly useful throughout the hiring process should you be tasked with collaborating with multiple departments for a range of job openings. This can provide you with a clear overview of your posted jobs, their requirements, and what stage they’re at respectively. Candidates can be instantly compared using performance and experience visualizations for a greater level of accuracy when it comes to making a hiring decision. 

3. Remember that WFH and In-House Employees Require Different Qualities

Excelling in a WFH role and performing well within in-house environments are completely different prospects for employees. With this in mind, being confident, self-motivated, and a self-starter are essential for successful remote workers. 

In environments that have little structure, discipline and strong time-management skills are key in getting workloads completed on time. This means that it’s important for HR personnel to seek out assurances that applicants can take it upon themselves to solve problems on their own, and won’t be liable to struggle without supervision. 

During the interview stage, it could be worth asking candidates typical behavior-based questions, and to explore whether they’ve worked virtually before. 

4. Be Prepared to Keep Communication Lines Open at All Times

Another major consideration to make revolves around adapting to a remote workforce. Because of the scale of the adjustment at hand, HR personnel may find that they need to establish themselves as a more frequent point of contact for workers adapting to the WFH landscape. 

Be sure to let team members know if you need to adjust your schedule to accommodate this new remote lifestyle. For instance, some new recruits may have children who could be home from school, or family members who they need to care for. With this in mind, it’s worth taking the time to develop some support schemes. 

Keeping communication lines open for candidates is also essential when it comes to onboarding. Even for something as simple as checking in on how your new staff member is doing, or offering an overview of the software that they’ll be using can be a great gesture that goes a long way in helping workers to settle into their remote environment. 

5. Remember to Offer Help to Isolated Employees

It’s important to keep in mind that all forms of remote work invariably means that employees and managers alike will be working alone, and at risk of feeling isolated from others. For some workers, WFH will feel perfectly natural, whilst others could suffer without any in-person contact. 

Although we’ve already looked at the necessity of looking out for a candidate’s ability to work happily and competently from home, it’s essential that HR professionals are looking for signs of discontent and stress caused by prolonged isolation from others. 

All HR departments within companies, regardless of whether they have WFH positions or not, should offer some sort of support system for employees who feel unhappy. However, it’s more important than ever for a coherent framework to be in place to listen and act on the concerns of remote workers who are struggling in their role. 

Although the age of WFH is still very much in its fledgling stages, it’s clear that this new approach to productivity is going nowhere fast. This puts the onus on HR teams to adapt accordingly. 

With the right considerations and a few operational tweaks, your HR department can actively keep employees happy when working remotely, whilst improving your businesses’ attraction to candidates who crave flexibility.

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