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The Qualities of a Successful Remote Employee

In Company Culture — by Dave Anderson

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Welcome to the third and final article in our series on hiring remote employees. So far we’ve highlighted the business advantages of having a remote staff and provided some tips on interviewing candidates for remote jobs.

Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty and break down all the qualities it takes to be successful while working remotely. When you hire for an in-the-workplace position, you typically look for someone who has the required skills and experience, a positive attitude, and will work well with their teammates. Those qualities are needed for remote workers too but there are a number of other traits it takes to be successful.

Communication

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that communication tops the list. Anyone who works remotely absolutely must be effective at staying in touch with their colleagues through email, instant messaging, and video chat.

Interview Tip: Take note of how well the candidate communicates through the interview scheduling process.

Collaborative

On top of being a strong communicator, a remote employee needs to do work that builds on the efforts of their colleagues. They need to know what their teammates are working on and what they can do to compliment it.

Interview Tip: Always involve the future hire’s teammates in the interview process so everyone learns what it will be like to work together.

Independent worker

While collaboration is important, anyone you hire also needs to be comfortable working on their own. Some people need the social interaction a workplace offers but your remote employees need to be content working alone day-after-day.

Interview Tip: Ask the candidate if they’re prepared to spend entire workdays in isolation. It may even be a good idea to hire someone who has experience working remotely.

Self-starter

And when someone works from home, they need to be motivated and productive for the entire duration of their workday. Even though they don’t have a boss looking over their shoulder, they still need to accomplish everything that is expected of them.
Interview Tip: Find out what the candidate does to get motivated and how they prioritize their work responsibilities.

Works with little direction

In addition to be a self-starter, remote employees need to have a firm grasp of their role-specific goals and objectives. They need to know what they’re supposed to be working on and how it should be done.

Interview Tip: Onboarding and training are especially important for remote employees. Devote at least a few days to teaching the new hire the correct way to go about their job.

Produces impactful work

It should go without saying that anyone you employ should do work that helps the organization meet its goals. Make sure a potential hire has big ideas they’ll tackle if they get the job.

Interview Tip: Ask the candidate what they would hope to accomplish in their first month, six months, and year on the job.

Focused

It’s easy to get motivated in a traditional workplace because there isn’t anything to do but work. But successful remote employees must avoid the distractions of TV, the internet, and everything else in their home during the workday.

Interview Tip: Ask the candidate if they have a dedicated home office or even a coffee shop or coworking space in their neighborhood they can work from.

Time management

One of the perks of working from home is employees often get to set their own schedules. However, that means anyone you hire needs to properly manage their time whenever they’re working and be available when they need to collaborate with others.

Interview Tip: Ask the candidate what time of day they do their best work and if they can be available at the times you need them to be.

Curious and inquisitive

A disadvantage of not having a centralized workplace is employees miss out on those off-the-cuff conversations with people from other departments. Remote employees should proactively reach out to colleagues they don’t work directly with to get to know them and what they do.

Interview Tip: Get a sense for how the candidate sees the job supporting other positions within the organization.

Tech-savvy

Remote staffs are now common because technological advancements make it possible for people to stay connected. It’s crucial that anyone you hire knows how to use the right solutions, or can pick them up quickly.

Interview Tip: Ask the candidate if they’ve used your preferred tools, or similar solutions, in their previous jobs.

Resourceful

Remote employees don’t have access to all the amenities of an office. Your team members need to figure out how to effectively do their jobs in their own environment while solving any problems they encounter on their own.

Interview Tip: Give the candidate a hypothetical problem to solve related to the job and see how they think through it to arrive at a solution.

Makes their own work

The best employees see something the organization should take advantage of and take it upon themselves to run with it. Unfortunately, these opportunities often don’t stand out to people working in the quiet of their own home.

Interview Tip: Ask the candidate what they think your organization can do better and if they have any big ideas they would tackle if hired.

Passionate about your organization’s mission

Many candidates apply for a remote job just because they like the idea of working from home. You’ll regret hiring those people. Strive to find someone who is excited about what you’re trying to achieve and wants to help make it come to fruition.

Interview Tip: Get a sense for why the candidate applied for the job in the first place and what interests them about the opportunity.

To put it simply, some people are more cut out for working remotely than others. Evaluate candidates on the qualities outlined in this article and you’ll soon have a team of people located all over who do great work.

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