Remote work is becoming more popular for both employees and employers. Its many benefits include lower stress levels, increased employee morale, a longer working period for older workers, reduced real estate costs, and many others.
But remote work may not suit everyone. There are many challenges to working remotely that both employees and employers must consider.
The Challenges of Working Remotely
Like all great things, remote work has downsides. Here are some of the challenges that remote workers usually face.
Poor time management
Success in remote work is greatly reliant on good time management.
A lot of people opt for remote work because it saves them a lot of time, especially in terms of commute. However, some people take this as a cue to relax and loosen up on time management—which may cause them to miss deadlines.
Another aspect that remote workers need to consider is time differences. A remote worker may have been hired due to location, and attention to time might be crucial at times.
Lack of Discipline and Motivation
People working from their homes or simply outside of the office tend to be disconnected from the company culture. This means that they are not constantly supervised and aren’t pressured to work within a specified number of hours.
Remote employees may therefore struggle with discipline and motivation because of the more relaxed work setting.
Poor Communication and Collaboration Skills
Not being able to communicate clearly can mean more work for the remote worker.
Since their work is delegated over the internet, instructions may sometimes be unclear. Collaborating may also be frustrating when different managers give remote workers contradicting instructions.
Unfamiliarity with the Technology
Unlike working in the office, remote workers do not have the IT team at the tips of their fingers. And since their work is so very reliant on technology, having tech issues without solutions is a huge blocking point for remote workers.
These are only some of the challenges that affect remote workers. Despite all these, a good remote worker can deliver a great working experience depending on how they approach these challenges.
Desirable Characteristics to Look For
The question is, what should we look for in a remote worker so we can rest assured that they can handle the work?
Organized and Goal-oriented
Remote work can be rather unstructured, especially since remote employees may not necessarily work a strict, daily schedule. This can cause problems especially if your company’s projects are time-bound.
Having someone who can organize and prioritize tasks accordingly will greatly help your team. Fortunately, we can determine a candidate’s capacity to be organized and goal-oriented in at least two aspects of the hiring process.
During the initial screening, ask the candidate about their tasks and responsibilities at their previous jobs. Look for their understanding of their goals and why these goals are important.
Try to find if they contributed to the creation of these goals or if they simply received it from their manager or supervisor. Goal-oriented people have the natural predisposition to establish their own goals, and this would be evident in how they talk about previous jobs.
Employers can also provide candidates with an assignment that assesses their approach towards tasks. Make it challenging but doable within a reasonable amount of time.
When creating the assignment, make sure that the purpose of the task is clear, that candidates do not need the company’s private resources to complete it, and that they know what the expected product should be.
Observe how closely they follow instructions and how their interpretation of the goal affected their working style.
Did they finish the more important and relevant tasks first? Did they spend more time on less relevant tasks that had little impact overall?
Self-motivated and Independent
These traits are two of the more obvious and important qualities to have in remote workers.
Working off-site means that bosses or co-workers cannot see your work, and for less motivated people, this may cause them to slack off. When hiring someone for remote work, make sure that they have high work motivation and can work independently without bosses monitoring them constantly.
One way to determine if a candidate has high work motivation is to ask them behavioral questions, such as:
- In your previous job, how did you improve upon existing team methods or company practices?
- Talk about a project that was successfully completed in part due to your efforts. How did you contribute to this project?
- How do you stay motivated in a less-than-motivating environment?
- What are your goals in life?
- What is your preferred working style or environment?
Remember that answering interviews is also a skill, so to find a genuine answer, look for ones that are based on experience.
Employers can also check the candidate’s employment history and even their non-career interests. Pursuing hobbies and having something to show for them shows a great deal of motivation on the candidate’s part, and employers shouldn’t overlook this.
Trust-worthy and Has Great Initiative
Trust is such an important value, whether in or outside the office. It also takes a lot of trust for people to be able to leave tasks to co-workers whom they do not see regularly.
Asking a candidate straight up whether they are reliable or not wouldn’t be an effective way to go about this. Instead, take clues from how they respond to typical interview questions.
Why do they want to work at your company? What are their long-term goals?
An employee who is passionate about the company that they are trying to join is almost always a reliable one.
Collaborative and can communicate well
For a remote worker, half the job is communicating. This may seem at odds with their isolated working style, but proper communication can cut back on the amount of work that a remote worker does.
Having collaboration skills can also help remote workers adjust well to working with a team off-site. This can be very important to projects where several experts in different locations need to work on a singular goal.
One good way to evaluate the candidate’s communication skills is by examining their responses during the hiring process. Do they communicate well in writing? Are they clear and quick to reply to you?
Make sure that you are not hiring someone that you’ll have to constantly chase down in the future. It is part of remote workers’ responsibility to be available for work communications at agreed-upon hours.
This isn’t always a given, but working with someone who can troubleshoot applications or at least understand the programs well enough to be guided through a troubleshooting walk-through will save you a lot of time.
They will, after all, use computers for almost the entire time they are working.
During the interview, ask candidates about their level of comfort with using computers. Ask them what kinds of tools they normally use for their previous jobs or other endeavors.
All the traits we discussed above will take time and effort to develop. If you think that the remote position can afford it, hiring someone who can be trained is almost as good as hiring someone ideal from the get-go.