August 27, 2012

How To Select Remote Employees (Part 2)

selectingThis is the second part of the article posted recently which talked about how to select remote employees.  The first article acknowledged the rise of telecommuting, e.g. Forrester Research has predicted that by 2016, over half the work force may be telecommuting. It argued that it should not be taken for granted that employees who can work effectively in a co-located environment will be as effective in a virtual/telecommuting system.  I then outlined how there would be a increasing expectation for recruiters to be able to quickly and reliably identify employees who have the skills to telecommute effectively.

In that article, I set out the first 3 of 6 tips to help recruiters identify effective remote workers, and below I have outlined the second 3 tips.

4. Can work alone – without day to day physical contact

Telecommuters will spend a lot of time working on their own; its the nature of the beast, they won’t have the social support and interaction of an office. Employees who work from home should have good self-awareness of their own needs for social contact versus their ability to work on their own – and they should have a plan to address these needs to ensure their long term personal well being. This could involve attending the office for contact days and events and joining a local telecommuting support network where they can go meet for social lunch breaks etc… The kind of questions a recruiter could ask a candidate to assess their skills in this area is:

  1. Have you telecommuted before and, if so, how long did you do it for and how did you handle the isolation?
  2. What level of social contact do you need during the working day and what plans do you have in place to help you maintain your required level of contact.

5. Can work without ongoing feedback – but can speak up if needed

As telecommuters will be working in isolation, without the presence or their manager or peers, they must be able to work without ongoing feedback, they must be able to solve problems on their own and make decisions. However, they must have good judgment so they know when they need to defer, but must be confident and resourceful enough if necessary to find the right person and speak up or ask questions if needed. The kind of questions you might ask a candidate to assess their skills in this area are.

  1. Can you tell me about a time where you sought help for a project which was not going to plan? What was the situation? What help did you get? Did the project come back on track?
  2. Can you describe the most unresponsive and hard to reach manager, client or peer that you have worked with? Why were they hard to reach? How did you manage to make sure you could get in contact with them when you needed to speak to them?

6. Collaboration Software Evangelist

There is no doubt that telecommuting can be done most effectively with the aid of collaboration software such as wikis, blogs, and private social networks etc… The best telecommuters will not need convincing about this, they will be evangelists of collaboration software and the kind of questions you can ask to assess their skills in this area are:

  1. What collaboration software have you used to date, and what did you use them for? How did they help you to do your job better?
  2. Which collaboration software do you think is most important to telecommuting and why?
  3. How do you think technology can enable teams to work together effectively? How should a team leader keep team members engaged?

If you have any other tips that can help recruiters and hiring managers to more effectively select telecommuters, then please feel free to comment.

Read more in Telecommuting

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.