Approximately 37 percent of American workers telecommute on occasion. That’s up from only 9 percent of the U.S. workforce in 1995, and the remote job trend is not expected to slow down any time soon – neither in the U.S. nor abroad.
In part, that’s because virtual employees can save organizations a lot of money. For example, in one study, a Chinese travel agency saved $1,900 per remote employee in a nine-month period.
During a nine-month research study, a Chinese travel agency saved $1,900 per remote employee. The agency found that virtual employees worked longer hours, took shorter breaks, met fewer distractions, and rarely requested time off. The agency also found that remote employees were more satisfied, more productive, and more likely to stick around than their in-office counterparts.
So, hiring remote workers can cut costs and give you access to better talent – but how do you have the right candidate? When it comes to hiring for virtual workers, you need to do things a little differently.
With that in mind, here are five qualities you should look for in remote employees:
1. High Levels of Emotional Intelligence
Remote employees are part of a larger network of individuals who contribute to your company’s mission. This is why emotional intelligence is so important. An employee’s emotional intelligence levels can tell you a lot about their ability to:
- collaborate with coworkers;
- engage in clear and respectful online communication;
- avoid confrontations;
- and establish and maintain relationships.
These are abilities that all employees need, whether they are working on site or remotely.
To get some insight into a candidate’s emotional intelligence, pose an open-ended question like, “Tell me about your home life” or “What happened the last time you went out for a cup of coffee?” The way the candidate responds will tell you a lot.
2. Digital Acumen
When it comes to remote workers, keeping lines of communication open is critical. Whether you communicate by email, Skype, or some other avenue, your virtual employees should be able to adapt to the unpredictability of technology. They should not crumble under the weight of a single glitch.
Incorporating these tools into your interview process will help you gauge how well each candidate can traverse the technological terrain.
Virtual employees must be self-motivating. Otherwise, they’ll be mostly unproductive.
“Grit” can be described as a person’s “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” It’s their level of stick-to-itiveness, and it’s critically important for virtual workers.
If given a project, will this person complete it or leave it hanging? Is this person resourceful? How will they go about solving problems with minimal guidance from superiors?
When interviewing candidates for remote positions, you can ask broad questions to help you determine how much grit your candidate has. Consider asking questions like this:
- How do you approach projects and assignments?
- In the past, how have you reacted when it becomes clear a project has taken a wrong turn?
- What does a typical workday look like for you?
By asking open-ended instead of leading questions, you give candidates the chance to respond based on their personal experience, rather than feed you the answers they think you want to hear.
4. Telecommuting Experience
Employees don’t always know what to expect when working from home. For some, telecommuting turns out to be more than they bargained for. The isolation, a humming refrigerator beckoning them to have a snack, an inability to be self-directed – these can all turn out to be utter nightmares for some virtual employees.
Working from home simply doesn’t work out for everyone.
Thus, you want to finding an experienced remote worker when hiring for virtual positions. Experienced telecommuters will know how to work effectively from home. They’ll also already know that they enjoy telecommuting, which means you won’t have to worry about them suddenly jumping ship.
5. A Passion for Skills Development
Remote workers will be part of a larger team, and you’ll want to invest in their skills development as you would with any other employee. Therefore, it’s important that any remote employees you hire are open to and passionate about growth and development. They need to be willing to grow with your company.
Your virtual team will only be as good as the employees who comprise it. So, when you’re on the hunt for remote workers, make sure you look for candidates who have these five qualities.