The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to work remotely to ensure the safety and well-being of their staff. Now, with more than half the nation fully vaccinated, businesses are beginning to transition back to in-office work environments. However, remote work will most likely continue to be an option at companies that successfully transitioned to virtual work environments at the height of the pandemic. This action will lead to more hybrid work environments where some employees work from home while others work in the office.
With more companies on board with remote work, chances are we will also see a continued rise in employers hiring and onboarding applicants remotely. This process can be daunting if you’re a firm with little to no experience onboarding new talent in a virtual environment. Fortunately, at Summit CPA, we have operated as a distributed company for several years and have a significant amount of experience successfully hiring and onboarding new team members.
Listed below are a few habits we’ve picked up during that time that have helped us hire, onboard, and, ultimately, retain top talent in a virtual environment.
Keep communication methods consistent across your company.
Ensuring that every team member uses the same platforms and applications to communicate and collaborate is essential to creating a hospitable and productive work culture. If those working in the office engage with your remote staff in a different way than they engage with each other, you could end up unintentionally alienating your remote team. For example, before we became a distributed company, we had an employee go remote while the rest of our team continued to work on-site. During those first few months of her operating remotely, she missed out on different communication methods that comprised our workplace culture, such as side conversations held during in-person meetings. For this reason, she no longer felt like a member of the team.
Since then, we’ve elected to host all internal communication on the platforms Slack and Sococo to ensure everyone can connect effectively and efficiently. Doing so helps us maintain the tight-knit workplace culture we’ve worked diligently to create.
Set a default time zone and operate within it.
Hiring remote staff means you can widen your candidate pool to talent in all corners of the globe. With that in mind, if you decide to hire candidates in a different time zone than where your firm is based, we recommend setting a default time zone within which all your employees must operate. Having a time zone everyone can default to makes managing schedules much easier. This action is crucial for team members engaging in client-facing work where meetings are held in real-time via video conferencing.
Hire candidates who fit the work culture you’ve created.
While hiring remotely, try to determine if the candidates have the necessary technical qualifications for the job and the right personality for your work environment. At Summit CPA, constructive feedback is a large part of our work culture. As such, we developed an onboarding process that involves giving new talent consistent feedback and insights on their performance so that they can determine what they’re doing right and where there’s room for improvement. This process allows us to set performance expectations and detail how to meet those expectations. However, some people have a difficult time receiving constructive feedback. We try to determine if that’s the case during our hiring process, so we can refrain from extending an offer to someone who might not thrive in our work environment for that reason.
Document your processes.
Document your processes, packaging them, and storing them to be used by new talent as they’re onboarded is a great way to quickly get your new hire up to speed without spending an exorbitant amount of time on training. At Summit CPA, we document our processes via video. New team members watch those videos to learn how we operate. They also have the opportunity to refer back to them at any time should they need to refresh their memory about a particular procedure later.
Employ the buddy system
Old school but effective, pairing a new employee with a more experienced team member is crucial to the onboarding process. The buddy system allows new employees to ask questions about the company, its operations, and their role, ultimately helping them get up to speed quickly. It also instills the importance of communication early on, thereby strengthening professional relationships between employees over time.
Hire people who can manage themselves.
Remote work isn’t the best fit for everyone. It requires people to do two things at once: (1) work productively on their own while physically apart from their colleagues, and (2) be effective communicators and collaborators within a wholly virtual or hybrid environment. Remote work also typically goes hand in hand with a more flexible schedule, which can be difficult for some to manage. For these reasons, it’s imperative that you hire talent who does not need to be micromanaged and can achieve what’s expected of them regardless of their chosen work environment.
As you search for candidates to fulfill your next remote position, consider employing a few of these tips to increase your chances of attracting and hiring talent who are a good fit for your firm. We can confidently say you won’t regret it!