remote assistant

Working remotely is no longer a pipe dream and it isn’t a poor career path. It’s actually a reality for millions of business owners and workers. At my company, all of my employees work remotely. Meanwhile it’s been found that the typical remote employee is a 40-something college graduate who earns $60,000 a year at a company with 100+ employees. While there are plenty of these types of workers, the question is are they trustworthy remote workers?

The American workplace — and others.

Additionally, Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace,” found that 43 percent of employees reported working remotely in 2016, This is up from 39 percent in 2012. FlexJob’s State of Telecommuting in 2017 report reported that nine million people (2.9 percent of the total U.S. labor force) work from home at least half of the time. This was up from 1.8 million in 2005. This necessity/luxury is becoming more the new normal.

What’s more, the 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey states that the percentage of millennials with “flexible locations” is at 64 percent — an increase of 21 percent from 2016.

In other words, remote work is booming and there are no signs of it slowing down.

The challenges of having a team of trustworthy remote workers.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any challenges when it comes to remote workers. As a business owner, managing and motivating your virtual team can be difficult. This is because besides time zone differences, you also have to find ways for your team to communicate, collaborate, and embrace your company’s culture from a distance.

It’s not impossible. But, it is a hurdle you can overcome.

What’s even more challenging is making sure that you’re working with people you can trust. After all, it’s not like you can pop-in and check on them.

So, how can you be certain that you’re hiring trustworthy remote workers? The answer? Make sure that you’re looking in the right places.

What are the qualities of reliable workers?

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I want to briefly share the qualities that you should be looking for when hiring trustworthy remote workers. This way you know exactly what to look for when comparing hirable candidates.

1. Self-motivation.

Motivation is a quality that you will want to quantify. How does this pre-employee prove their own motivation to themselves? You will want to include questions in your interview that substantiate individualized self-motivation. Most remote workers have a flexible schedule and work unsupervised. Looking at their work history and promotion history can clue you in where they stand on motivation.

But, you should also ask about their extracurricular interests. If they’ve wons awards or have personal achievements, you probably have a self-motivated individual on-hand.

2. Problem-solving.

Remote workers often have to troubleshoot and solve problems on their own. They also need to be self-motivated to find their own answers or conduct their own research.

This may be tough to gauge when interviewing a candidate. But, the best option is to ask them to share how they overcame a challenging situation. Another option might be to ask a question your candidate cannot possibly answer. Then ask, “so where will you look and find this answer without help?

3.  Strong communication skills.

This is vital with remote workers. They need to be able to respond to phone calls, emails, texts, or chats in a timely manner. More important, they also need to to be able to clearly make their point via written messages.

When reviewing their resumé and correspondence, pay particular attention to their grammar skills. Do they use good grammar? Are they using a zillion words that no one could possibly know what they actually mean without a lengthy explanation? Can you clearly understand what they’re conveying?

If you’re hiring a writer, this is a bit easier since you can ask them to provide examples of their work. Sometimes you can ask for provable examples from this would-be employee.

4. Trustworthiness.

This is the question you wanted answered from the get-go, right? This can almost be impossible to gauge when meeting someone for the first time.

Again, review their work history. If they worked at the same business for years, and received a promotion, they must have some sort of trustworthiness. You should also ask for references and contact these references.

You could also try activities like the Prisoner’s Dilemma challenge.

Besides the qualities listed above, you can also be on the lookout for other traits like creativity, confidence, enthusiasm, positivity, and organizational skills.

How can you spot poor candidates?

At the same time you are interviewing you should also be aware and able to spot poor candidates.

The most obvious signs are that they don’t meet your specific needs, aren’t equipped to work remotely, and don’t possess the qualities previously mentioned.

You should also be on the lookout for:

  • No Credible References or Work History. Unless you’re hiring someone right out of college, potential employees should have a verifiable work history. If not, they should have at least a couple of credible references.
  • Poor Communication: Is the applicant fluent in their primary language? Are they frequently making typos and grammatical mistakes? Do they respond in a timely manner? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you’re taking a risk in hiring a poor candidate.
  • Unwilling to Adapt: If you have a particular setup, tool, or protocol for your employees, make sure candidates are willing to learn them. This doesn’t mean that they can’t make suggestions. You just want to see if they’re willing to be flexible and can follow procedures.

The best places for finding trustworthy remote workers.

Here’s what you’ve been patiently waiting for. Where exactly can you find trustworthy remote workers?

Websites

The most obvious answer is websites dedicated specifically for remote workers. There are hundreds of these sites, but here are ten that I’m a big fan of:

  • Flexjobs. FlexJobs offers 50 career categories that range from freelance to full-time, entry-level to executive. My favorite part about this site is that employees must request an invite before joining.
  • Stack Overflow. If you’re looking for a developer, then this is probably where your best option.
  • Jobspresso. Another site to find developers, designers, DevOps, and UX specialists.
  • We Work Remotely. A popular job board that contains a variety of remote job categories. This includes programming, marketing, customer success, recruitment, sales, and design.
  • Working Nomads. While many used by software developers, you can also find positions for management, customer success, marketing, and design.
  • Authentic Jobs. This site describes itself as the leading job board for designers, hackers, and creative pros.
  • Skip the Drive. What’s unique about this site is that it gathers telecommuting, telework, online, virtual, and working from home job opportunities from other job sites. Neil Patel says that this is one of his go-to sourcing solutions on Inc.com.
  • Virtual Vocations. This site is similar to Flexjobs. Here you can find employees with a multitude of skills like technical writing, bookkeeping, paralegal, teaching, proofreading, and translation.
  • Outsourcely. If you run a startup, this is a great site to find employees by categories like design & multimedia, web development, writing & content, customer service, sales & marketing.
  • Remote OK. Since all job listings use tags on this site, you can easily search for the work you need.

Other Channels For Remote Workers

Outside of these websites, you can also turn to Craigslist and your inner circle. What I like about getting word-of-mouth recommendations is that I have someone I trust vouching for the employee.

However, there are also overlooked spots. In particular, your company’s website, blog, and social channels. Since your audience are already fans of your business, posting a job listing on these locations are is a surefire way to find enthusiastic candidates.

Finally, consider running contests or attending events such as job fairs and other events that those whom you wish to hire may be in attendance. Even though they’re working remotely doesn’t mean that they can’t live nearby.

Remember, trust works both ways.

My final words of advice would that in order to trust your remote employees, they must also trust you. Simply put, trust works both ways.

Here are a couple of pointers on how you can build trust with your remote team:

  • Provide your team with the right work to do, the appropriate amount of work to do and set performance expectations.
  • Make sure that your remote workers have adequate materials, equipment, and information.
  • Schedule frequent meetings, actually listen to your remote workers, and continually provide feedback.
  • Don’t treat them like second class citizens. Keep them in the loop and make them feel like they’re part of a team. For example, if there is an event in their proxmixty, ask them to attend and be your brand’s ambassador.
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Renzo Costarella is an entrepreneur, avid learner, and startup enthusiast currently living in Silicon Valley. He consults for several startups in the Bay Area and is pursuing a few ideas of his own.

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