Remote working has become increasingly common, with a variety of resources available to get work done from almost anywhere. And yet, even the most advanced of tools wouldn’t be helpful to the right kind of person. Remote working boasts a plethora of benefits for everyone but isn’t necessarily the best fit for everyone.
When hiring remote workers, how can you cultivate the trust that they will, in fact, do the work? Over surveillance would just be invasive, and micromanaging can stifle the flow of any work set-up, no matter the distance. Remote work has made the hiring process easier by taking geographical limits off of your talent pool, but that also means you’ve got to stay on the alert for the characteristics of a quality remote worker.
It makes sense that a remote worker would need to be self-motivated and somewhat self-directed. Without the impetus of an office or a supervisor nearby, the pressure is still on the worker to complete assigned tasks. Coffee can only help so much. Remote worker hires should show some evidence of being self-motivated, or at the very least know how to motivate themselves when they need it.
Rebecca Corliss, VP of Marketing at Owl Labs, explains the importance of identifying whether “candidates are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated.” If someone is motivated by intrinsic sources, meaning their energy to complete projects doesn’t come from people around them, “they’ll likely be self-directed enough to lead projects and communicate with others,” even from a distance.
In an ideal world, every remote worker would be so intrinsically motivated that accountability wouldn’t be necessary and everything would be done on time. But in the real world, it is possible to be a successful remote worker even if one doesn’t always describe themselves as self-motivated. However, that’s only possible if the worker demonstrates the self-awareness to develop practices that help them get work done.
For example, as a remote worker with ADD and a disability, I have to put systems in place for myself that motivate me to get more done in a timely manner. I have to be aware of my body, mind, and schedule, and how to get those to combine in such a way that I can do my best work.
Honestly, I would describe myself as extrinsically motivated, but that doesn’t disqualify me from remote work. It does mean that I have to recognize that about myself and demonstrate that I can move forward with assigned tasks despite the occasional lack of conventional motivation.
If a candidate is willing and enthusiastic about remote work, but also admits their faults and is generally self-aware, it could still work well for them. But they should demonstrate the self-awareness that acknowledges how their mind works and how to make it work for them--and you.
Willing to Learn
In addition to being willing to self-examine, remote workers should be prepared to adopt some skill sets or technologies that one might not be used to in the usual office setting. For example, it could be problematic if your company uses Zoom for video conferencing, but a particular worker insists they can only use Skype instead. Experience with such technologies is usually preferred, but shouldn’t be a barrier if the candidate is teachable and willing to be taught
At times, a good remote worker has to put aside their own preferences to collaborate on a level that works for the rest of the team, especially considering the team won’t always be in the same physical space. If they’re not willing to adopt a flexible lifestyle, then the flexible nature of remote work just won’t be satisfactory.
In the same vein, a good remote worker should in some sense be an over-communicator. Google found that their remote teams often struggled to connect, both communication wise and as people.
Since remote workers won’t be seeing their coworkers or managers every day, they really should be apt at communicating. This even includes setting boundaries for communication. Google notes that their successful remote teams are the ones that collaborate to determine not just when and how to communicate, but also when not to schedule meetings and calls.
Working remotely means that when it does come time for those meetings and calls, there will be less social cues just by the nature of telemeetings. The communication-oriented remote worker understands this as well and keeps in mind the tone and intentions of a coworker that may or may not come across in a telecommuting situation.
Are They Remote Ready?
It’s up to you to determine if candidates are ready for the remote workforce. Are they motivated enough to get work done themselves? Are they self-aware and moving toward self-improvement? Are they ready to learn the skills or apps they need to be an effective communicator outside of the traditional office?
Are they remote ready?