The ultimate guide to hiring remote talent
And tap into an unlimited pool of talent, to build a stronger and more diversified company
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, working remotely has become the norm for millions of workers worldwide, and even if governments begin to ease lockdown measures, companies will voluntarily switch to a work-from-anywhere policy. Research by FlexJobs reveals that over the last five years, the number of people working remotely has grown by 44%. With the pandemic forcing companies all over the world to embrace remote working, the remote revolution has become unstoppable. Research conducted by MatcHR further underlines these findings, as 90% of CEOs of tech companies indicated that they will make remote work permanent and 70% stated they are open to hiring remote workers.
This article was written in conjunction with industry leaders from companies like GitLab, Portal, Remote, Smily and Firstbase to help companies successfully and seamlessly hire remote talent. Our full research is published in the whitepaper “The ultimate guide to hiring remote talent”. You can download the whitepaper here.
What you will learn from this article:
1. The different types of remote work models
2. The benefits of remote hiring and remote work for businesses and employees
3. How to source, recruit, interview and onboard remote workers
4. How to manage a remote team and avoid common mistakes
5. Best practices and tips from industry leaders on running a remote-first company
Remote company models
There are different types of remote models, depending on your company’s needs, the type of business you run and your company’s values.
The main types of remote companies are:
- Remote is ok
- Hybrid remote
- All remote within one time zone
- All remote within different time zones
Remote is ok
The “remote is ok” model means the company has accepted that some of their employees will work remotely for a short period. However, they still expect people to spend the majority of their time in the office. Thus, this model provides employees some flexibility.
The “hybrid remote” option, on the other hand, is most effective for companies that are just beginning to hire remote workers or workplaces where it is difficult to implement a completely remote structure. It is an effective tool for expanding the candidate pipeline, improving diversity, and reducing expenses by employing people beyond the major metropolitan areas. Facebook, Figma, Twitter, and HubSpot make use of this option.
All remote within one time zone
The “all remote within one time zone” option is great for companies that require core team working hours.
All remote within different time zones
The “all remote within different time zones” model is ideal for companies that can work effectively with asynchronous teams. This model is well suited to companies that are able to sell online, have a strong technological component and are not bound by region or time zones, like GitLab, for example.
Why hire remote workers?
There are several reasons why companies may choose to hire remote staff or a form a completely remote team. Firstly, companies that hire remote workers simply have much more options. They can find more skilled candidates or lower-cost candidates more quickly and efficiently because limiting factors, like geographical areas and time zones, are no longer an issue.
Secondly, remote hiring increases the company’s chances of attracting and retaining top talent, as it makes the company more attractive to potential candidates, reduces employee turnover and increases retention.
Thirdly, switching to a remote-first approach creates significant savings, as the costs of dedicated office buildings and the associated maintenance staff are eliminated.
Some other advantages of remote working are improved productivity and efficiency, more diversity because of a geographically distributed workforce, increased employee morale, superior communication, and improved documentation of processes.
Many employees prefer to work remotely as they report it increases their productivity, reduces their stress levels, allows for a better work-life balance, eliminates their commute and reduces their costs.
“Being a remote-first company gives a unique opportunity to bring the best talent on board without limiting yourself with geographical areas and time zones. Moreover, remote work is becoming a new reality that you can’t ignore if you want to keep up with the global market.” Anastasia Pshegodskaya, head of sourcing at GitLab
How to hire remote workers
When it comes to hiring remote talent, there are two channels through which you can attract talent: inbound applications and outbound applications.
For inbound applications, there are specific job boards and websites where you can find people who are open to remote positions and where you can post your remote jobs. These include, among others, Upwork, Toptal, Remote, WeWorkRemotely and FlexJobs.
Job van der Voort, CEO of Remote, stated that his biggest lesson was that he didn’t always write a clear job description. This makes it much harder to find the right candidate. When you hire remotely, you will receive many more applicants. If you don’t have a clear job description, you will spend a lot of time on irrelevant candidates. This costs you time and negatively impacts your employer brand. Make sure to spend enough time on your job description to avoid this.
You can create a repeatable and structured outbound sourcing strategy for hiring remote talent. Your sourcing strategy should give answer to the following questions:
- Who are you exactly looking for?
- What is your preferred timezone?
- What is the expected salary level and what is your salary policy for remote workers?
- What countries/locations do you prefer?
- What are donor companies where you can find the candidates you are looking for?
- What social media platforms will you use to find and outreach your candidates?
- How will you pay and be locally compliant if you decide to hire someone remotely?
According to Dima Ponochovnyi, sourcing team lead at MatcHR, it is crucial to constantly measure your results against your sourcing strategy. “Are you targeting the right country/location? Are your salary levels in line with local market conditions? What feedback do you receive from candidates? Are you able to find and hire enough candidates based on your current strategy?” These are some of the questions you constantly need to ask yourself to optimize and improve your strategy. This will enable you to build historical data and will help with any future (remote) hires.
The interview process
In general, interviewing for a remote position follows the same guiding principles as interviewing for any other role. With remote hiring, however, job sampling is even more important, as you really need to understand whether someone is capable of doing the job without traditional supervision. Interviews for remote jobs come with their own set of pitfalls.
There are four core principles for screening and interviewing potential candidates for a remote role:
1. The ability to work autonomously
2. Good communication skills
3. Independent and proactive
4. Experience with remote work
When hiring remote talent, your interview questions should be related to the candidate’s previous experience, their motivation for applying for the remote job, as well as the appropriate process-related questions.
If onboarding remote employees is a brand-new experience for you, your onboarding plan should include a list of contacts that explains who is responsible for what and how to reach each person, the company’s value proposition, a one- to two-week training plan, online meetups with the team and managers, and resources to learn about the company, its competitors and the market.
According to Job van der Voort, CEO of Remote, it is important to give people time and space to get to know their new colleagues. Make sure everything, including onboarding steps, is well-documented.
How to manage a remote team
Here are some best practices that will help you become an effective remote manager once your team is up and running. Establish and share clear expectations with your co-workers and develop a handbook with informative principles and guidelines. The content of these guidelines should include the implications of a remote job, the company’s values, tips for goal setting and creating routine procedures and rituals, and a handbook with communication principles and reporting rules.
According to Chris Herd, founder of Firstbase, “The biggest challenge companies face when they switch to remote is that they try to replicate the culture they had in the office. The real advantage of being a distributed company is to operate asynchronously, to be able to do deep, focused work. This requires a different setup, culture and way of working.”
When it comes to effective communication, try to be as clear and specific as possible. Never rely on assumptions and always ask for clarifications if you are unsure. It is also important to document everything in writing, ranging from meeting notes to quarterly objectives, all of which should be available to everyone in the company at any time. Verbal communication boosts engagement and forges real connections between employees. So, to get everyone on the same scheduling page, identify meeting times that work for everyone’s time zone or split up your teams by time zone and duplicate meetings. There are plenty of tools that can help you choose the right meeting times for your distributed team. The main areas in which you need to use tools when working remotely are communication, project and task management, time management and calendar setting, file sharing and collaboration, and documentation.
Challenges of remote work and how to overcome them
There are various challenges in implementing remote workforce practices, including compliance, local employment laws, taxation, security, productivity and culture.
Compliance, payroll and taxation
Regarding compliance, the rapid increase in the size of a remote workforce can create challenges related to compliance with labor laws and payroll. Once you cross international borders, each country has very specific rules on employment contracts and taxation. Working with local legal firms for one or only a few employees can get costly quite quickly. For a small monthly fee, companies like Remote and Portal can help with both international compliance and payrolling.
To improve productivity and build a positive work environment, you must engage in smart and thoughtful management and maintenance of the company’s culture. The lack of face-to-face supervision and access to information can be solved by managers establishing regular check-ins. Moreover, to improve employees’ mental health, it is vital to encourage everyone to maintain a healthy lifestyle and clear work boundaries while staying connected to their remote colleagues.
Managers should learn to trust their teams, build healthy professional relationships, and encourage key values, such as self-discipline, initiative and independence among remote workers. There are various tools that help to create social interaction and bonding between workers. Dive is a social platform where colleagues can play online games while seeing each other. Taco integrates directly in slack and lets you ‘give’ 5 taco’s 🌮 per day as a sign of appreciation to a colleague. Donut creates virtual coffee meetings and allows you to schedule virtual coffee meetings randomly with colleagues in your company.
It’s clear that remote work is here to stay. Whether you are already hiring remote workers or just considering it, we recommend that you simply try it for yourself to see what works and what doesn’t work for you and your team. The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.
Our full research with much more practical advice and data is published in our whitepaper: “The ultimate guide to hiring remote talent”, which you can download here.
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As a fully remote organization, MatcHR collaborates with other companies to unlock global talent by helping them find and hire the best tech talent the world has to offer.
MatcHR was founded in 2018 by Adriaan Kolff and Maarten van der Kwaak. As business owners and investors, both Maarten and Adriaan were frustrated by how difficult and costly it was to quickly scale development teams. Having lived in multiple countries and traveled to every continent in the world, they realized that great talent could be found anywhere. At the same time, they realized that it’s difficult for both companies and talent to find each other outside of their own geographical location. In an effort to solve this problem, Maarten and Adriaan founded MatcHR.
With MatcHR we help companies find and hire the best tech talent the world has to offer. We work either on a subscription based model as your remote hiring team or we help you hire and employ your remote developers for a fixed fee per hire in over 70 countries in the world.
If you are interested in hearing how we help companies like Booking.com, Stripe, Revolut, TikTok and Mollie find and hire the best tech talent the world has to offer, just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn.