Remote Hiring: How to Assemble a Successful Virtual Team - Top Executive Recruiters - Cowen Partners

      Remote Hiring: Tips & Best Practices for Assembling a Successful Virtual Team

      According to a study from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, 74% of employers are offering some type of remote work opportunity for their employees, and 16% of businesses are fully remote. 

      Suffice it to say, virtual work is here to stay, but assembling a virtual team can be challenging. With that being said, here are some of today’s best practices for assembling a successful virtual team.

      Standardize Your Onboarding Process

      Identify how you intend to assemble your team and define your onboarding process clearly. Developing a well-defined onboarding process will ensure that new hires integrate seamlessly into your company culture and understand their role within it.

      Video interviews, for instance, are essential for assessing candidates from across the country, and they also allow hiring managers to evaluate the candidate’s verbal communication skills and body language.

      Prioritize Candidates with Remote Experience

      Opening your hiring process to remote candidates may mean you have applicants coming in from all across the country, and that’s good news, as it lets you draw from a larger talent pool. 

      Still, if you need to narrow the field a bit, you might give greater priority to candidates with a proven track record of remote or hybrid work. In doing so, you’ll have an easier time getting them up to speed on how to operate in your remote environment, and they may already be familiar with basic communication or project management tools that your team relies on.

      Use the Right Tools

      Virtual teams need to be supplied with the technological resources they need to communicate and collaborate with one another as they manage projects. Depending on how your business is structured, you may also need tools to pay your employees remotely, alongside the HR support needed to manage benefits, taxes, and other forms. 

      Some project management and communication platforms offer free versions for small teams, so you may need to match your team size to the right tool.

      Set Clear Expectations

      Compared to in-person employees, virtual teams operate with relatively little supervision. It’s all the more important, therefore, to set clear expectations. 

      How will you define productivity? Will you set deadlines for particular tasks? What kind of benchmarks and KPIs can you use for long-term projects? Setting these expectations will empower your workers to understand their roles in the company and keep them accountable for the work performed away from the office.

      Synchronize When Able

      Not every company works completely remotely. Hybrid teams, for instance, often spend two-to-three days a week in the office, and employers can synchronize the schedules of these teams’ members so that everyone is in the office at the same time. 

      Doing so will allow team members to collaborate more directly with one another rather than solely rely on conference calls or instant messengers. It will also build solidarity and rapport among members, which can go a long way toward employee retention.

      Be Sensitive to Time Differences

      Among a purely-remote team, members won’t just be separated by geography but by time as well. Workers in New York, for instance, will be three full hours ahead of those in California. 

      When you set project deadlines or meetings, it’s important to make sure that they fall within a convenient time for all workers. A 1:00 p.m. meeting, for example, allows employees from both coasts to participate within the typical 9-to-5 workday, and by setting deadlines well in advance, remote workers can maintain a flexible schedule while meeting company or client expectations.

      Offer Virtual Training

      Virtual teams might benefit from virtual training, which might include instructional videos on how to use project management platforms or other software. It might also extend to specific instructions about how to complete a given task. 

      Virtual training can be important for specialized workers, such as those working in finance or accounts receivable, and it can also help all remote workers learn more about your company’s culture and performance expectations.

      Check in Regularly

      Employers and managers of remote teams should perform regular check-ins with their workers.

      For one, doing so ensures that team members feel seen and valued — even when working at a considerable distance from their employer — and it also provides an opportunity to ask questions and clarify responsibilities and task requirements, introducing another layer of accountability into virtual teams.

      Publicly Recognize Your Workers

      When you work remotely, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your employer and thus feel rarely valued. Employers can change that outlook by publicly recognizing and honoring their remote workers. 

      It could take the form of some sort of “Employee of the Month” program, but it might also be more organic. Employers might mention employee contributions in company communication or even highlight valuable team members through their social media accounts.

      Track and Review Progress Wisely

      Admittedly, some employers get nervous about their remote teams and whether they are using their time to the fullest. Employers can gain insight by using time trackers and other monitoring tools that prevent employees from walking away from their home office or visiting other websites. 

      Project management tools also offer the distinct advantage of analytics. You can track the completion records and times of your various employees, which provides meaningful insights into their performance. You can determine your most important team members, address areas of inefficiency or friction, and also form the basis of incentive programs and promotions, providing a record of strong performance from top workers.

      Be cautious, however, as though these tools can boost efficiency, they may also undermine employee trust. They might be good as a probationary measure for new hires but use them sparingly with your established team.

      The Future of Virtual Work

      Virtual teams will likely continue to be a large part of the American workforce, especially as they offer the coveted work-life balance that most employees seek. Employers who practice the above measures can get the most from their remote teams and even develop a more effective workforce now that they can pool talent from across the country.

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