Top Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Remote Employees

In the world of startups, there are a number of difficulties related to growing a strong and well-functioning team. Because emerging startups typically deal with limited capital and resources, hiring a large team of in-house employees is generally not feasible. This being the case, hiring remote workers can be a great alternative recruitment strategy.

Some benefits of remote employment for businesses include having access to global talent, the ability to build business affordably (for example, you can save up to US$10,000 in real estate costs per full-time remote employee each year), and optimized productivity for remote workers due to flexible schedules.

However, it is risky to hire someone you will not see in the office daily and trust them with producing quality work and protecting certain company information. When it comes to employing a person from afar, it can be easy to overlook some crucial mistakes.

In order to help you make the best decision regarding hiring remote employees, here are five major errors recruiters should avoid.

Mistake #1: Not Having a Proper Interview Process

The most effective way of assessing a remote employment candidate is honing your interview process, ensuring that it is rigorous enough to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here, it’s important to remember that the interview process and questions should vary for a remote position. For instance, are they good with time management? How is their self-discipline? How good are they with communicating remotely? These types of questions should be addressed in the interview. Also, a professional with years of quality experience doesn’t always mean they will be a good remote worker. Tailor your interview questions to fully understand their work habits, such as whether or not they have a work space set aside for completing assignments. For more information, here are 12 qualities to look for when hiring remote workers.

In addition to formulating some critical interview questions for your remote hire, set up a Skype or FaceTime conversation before you go through with your final decision. Not having face to face contact during interviews can keep you from fully knowing an employee’s communication style.

Mistake #2: Hiring Remote Workers Simply Based on a Cheaper Rate

For startups, one of the benefits of remote employment is the ability to hire good talent more affordably. Don’t make this your only goal in doing so, though. For one thing, it’s an easy trap to fall into: you believe you’re saving more by hiring cheaply, but you may be sacrificing talent, quality, and culture. The cost you save by hiring cheap labor might show up in other forms, such as poor quality work or high communication costs.

Mistake #3: Not Properly Training Your Remote Employee

Once your remote staff has been hired, your job is far from over. Given the flexibility and autonomy of remote positions, it is natural to believe remote workers are independent and will finish the work you give them efficiently and effectively. Though this may be the case, it’s important to have standardized, organized training for remote employees. Training is crucial to set up any employee - in-house or remote - for success. Don’t let this aspect of the hiring process fall by the wayside.

One method of getting your new hire more acquainted with the job is giving them a test assignment. It should be something easy to complete in a short amount of time. This would give you a better idea of how they currently work and the areas in which they are lacking.

Don’t forget that training is an ongoing process. The more your remote employees understand about the company’s values and culture, and the work they are doing for you, the stronger your team will be.

Mistake #4: Not Integrating Them With Your Full-Time Team

Just because some of your employees are working remotely doesn’t mean they are separate from your full-time team. Despite being far away, remote workers should still share the same goals and objectives as your full-time team and company. Integrate your team so they can build on each other’s work - wherever they work.

There are a number of things you can do to further incorporate your remote employees into the company, such as keeping an open workspace for them in the office in case they need to come in for certain assignments, or including them in relevant company decisions. Also, some companies, such as Buffer, offer quarterly retreats with the aim of bringing both in-house and off-site employees together for team building activities

Mistake #5: Lack of Clear Communication or Work Guidelines

How is your remote staff supposed to know what resources to use or what their timeline is if you start sending them work with little access to you or other superiors? Having clear communication can mean having a designated messaging system like Slack for daily use or making weekly calls to check in on a team member’s progress. Such online tools and services are helpful in creating a more inclusive environment for your remote employees.

What else? On top of training your remote employee, give them clear accountability and KPI. Having a system that clearly designates each person’s roles and responsibilities allows people to function independently.

Conclusion

Remote employees offer a lot of benefits, but you should make sure to hire people you trust that are able to work independently. Some would argue that referrals are the best way to do this, as you have someone who can vouch for a potential remote employee’s qualifications (Note: if your startup wants to build a referral program or increase the referrals it receives, we recommend Jobalaya Referral Booster!)

Whether your next position to fill is in-house or remote, always try to avoid the mistakes mentioned above - after all, a bad hire can do more harm than good!

Jeremy Olivier
I'm a writer and musician based in Taipei. You can just as easily find me curled up on the couch with a good book as you can bounding down a rural Taiwan mountain trail. I have a bachelor's degree in history and an MA in Asia Studies.