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Hiring in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond, the Talent Is in Remote Teams

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In this guest post, Sharon Koifman, from DistantJob, discusses how and why COVID-19 is affecting hiring, as well as the challenges and benefits of remote work. 

COVID-19, aka Coronavirus, is having a huge impact on companies all around the world right now. With governments advocating social isolation, if not full-on lockdown, businesses are trying to find a “new normal” in terms of how to do business. One area that has been hit particularly hard has been recruitment. With many full-time staff furloughed—or thinking they may be—and workers sent home for the duration of the pandemic, HR departments are putting recruitment on hold. But do they have to?

Why COVID-19 Is Impacting Recruitment

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on business. What began with supply problems for goods in China has expanded to a global impact on all sorts of businesses. Nonessential businesses, including retail stores, have closed their doors or sent their workers home. Restaurants are only providing contact-free take out.

With staff unable to perform their duties from being furloughed or laid off, recruitment is taking a backseat—for now. Even where recruitment is taking place, COVID-19 is making its presence felt through:

  • Cancellation of interviews due to social distancing
  • Lack of remote working onboarding processes
  • Uncertainty about the future

However, fully remote and hybrid companies have been dealing with many of these challenges for a long time. 

Running Remote Interviews

Although some recruiters and hiring managers are reluctant to switch to video interviews, the experience is often as personal as face-to-face interactions. Once you’ve made your choice of video-conferencing software and familiarized yourself with it, the actual interview is much the same as in person.

You will need to consider some extra questions if your new hire is going to be working as part of a remote team, even if it’s only for the foreseeable future. If your potential team member hasn’t worked from home in the past, you can test their “remote readiness” by asking them questions about time management or problem-solving they’ve completed on their own. 

You should also ask the right questions to determine if the applicant is a good fit for your company’s culture. When putting together a remote team, your hirees won’t share many of the things that usually bring people together, such as supporting a local sports team or sharing an alma mater. That’s why having shared beliefs, values, and sense of humor are an important part of finding the ideal person to join your team.

Onboarding Remote Teams and Workers

Bringing a new member into your team takes time, especially if you haven’t done it before. If so, you’re probably wondering where to start. Fortunately, several tools can help you bring someone into the fold, even if they’re on the other side of the world. For example:

  • Video-conferencing can take the place of meetings needed to complete paperwork and conduct training. Rather than having a group in a conference room to watch health and safety videos, you can run a webinar.
  • It’s common practice to have new hires shadow an existing team member, or the person they’re replacing, for a period before you let them go solo. This is possible remotely, too. Tools like Zoom and GoToMeeting allow screen sharing alongside video calls, which do a great job of replicating the experience.
  • Following an initial period, you can have regular check-ins with your new hire. During these video chats, they can ask questions, and you can make sure that they’re toeing the company line.

The Benefits of Working with Remote Teams

While many companies have been forced into remote work due to COVID-19, the number of remote or hybrid companies has been increasing over time. That’s because distributed teams come with a number of benefits. These include:

  • Quicker hiring times. As many as 90% of employees want to work from home, even if it’s part-time. That means offering remote work is an attractive benefit to candidates. With the right recruitment agency behind you, it’s possible to hire a new employee in under two weeks.
  • Remote teams are more productive. There have been many studies that have proved that remote workers really do outperform their office-based colleagues. Researchers believe this is because virtual workers are healthier, happier, and have a tendency to put in a few extra hours.
  • Increased retention. Because staff want increased work flexibility, when you give it to them, they appreciate it. In return, you get increased engagement, loyalty, and employee retention.
  • Lower costs. It isn’t just the staff who get the benefit of working from home. The company gets a financial benefit as well. Less staff in the building means less brick-and-mortar costs, less desks, less coffee, and less toilet paper (important in these days of hoarding).
  • Global talent. What are the chances that the very best workers in the world are living right on your doorstep? Pretty slim. But if you expand your net so that you can hire from anywhere in the world, you can pick the very best regardless of location.
  • Increased diversity. Distributed teams are diversity-friendly. Hiring internationally has the benefit of bringing you workers from different backgrounds and beliefs. But flexible working also allows staff with disabilities, working mothers, and people with health conditions to compete on the same level.
  • 24-hour operation. If you use time zones to your advantage, you can have work completed around the clock.

Challenges of Hiring Remote

While there are plenty of benefits, there are also some challenges that come with a distributed team. For the most part, these revolve around communication and can be remedied by staying in touch with your team. A few other things to consider are:

  • Language barriers. If your native language is a second language to some of your staff, try sending them printed materials to digest ahead of a meeting so they can familiarize themselves with words before the meeting.
  • It’s not for everyone. Introvert or extrovert, remote work can be very isolating. Make sure that your remote team member has a plan to get the social contact that we all need.
  • Feeling “left out.” If you are running a hybrid team, remote team members can feel second-best to those who work together in the office. Put in extra effort to ensure they’re included in things, such as “employee of the month” contests and the like.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 will leave a lasting impact on the world of work, but perhaps its legacy will mean an increase in the uptake of working from home that will be of benefit to everyone.

iStock Photo Credit: Antonio_Diaz

Sharon Koifman

About the author:

Sharon Koifman believes every company, from the biggest enterprise to the newly-launched garage startup, should have access to the world’s top talent. That’s why he used over 15 years of experience in the tech industry recruitment & HR to create DistantJob, a recruitment agency that specializes in remote employees. His unique recruitment model allows DistantJob’s client to get exceptional better fitting talents at an incredible value.



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