Since the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns, many companies are demanding a return to the office.
Google is a notable example, a company so determined to get hybrid employees in-office that it has started tracking physical attendance as a part of performance reviews.
Unfortunately, this attitude is the exact opposite of what candidates want – job seekers expect remote work and flexibility.
Remote employees are a powerful talent acquisition trend to leverage.
Nationally, 11% of job ads offer remote work, yet that small percentage attracts a whopping 50% of all job applicants.
This is bad for companies that are cutting back on flexible work, but it’s a great opportunity for remote-positive organizations to secure top-tier talent.
This guide explores how companies leverage remote employees to reduce costs and fill crucial skills needs. We also offer some actionable tips to improve your remote hiring strategy if you’d like to skip straight to them.
Remote employees are workers that don’t go to a physical office. They work normal roles, but the location of their workspace – and often their hours – are flexible.
Virtual teams have existed for a long time but have recently gained immense popularity. It’s reached the point where many candidates expect remote work or at least flexible options.
This surge in remote employees has been empowering many individuals who prefer or need a remote work environment, including working parents, disabled people, and international employees.
Remote team building has its challenges, but certain talent acquisition strategies make it easier to secure these workers, such as leveraging HR technology or offering learning and development opportunities.
Because you’re operating from far away, building up the right tech stack is one of the most important parts of optimizing your remote strategy. These tools not only help organize candidates but also aid in successful communication.
Many organizations believe that the need for remote employees is over, and it’s time to send everyone back into the office.
This implies that the 2020 lockdowns were the only reason we needed remote work, which is far from the truth.
The COVID-19 pandemic certainly added to the use of remote work, but it isn’t the only driving force.
Before the pandemic, only 17% of employees worked remotely for five days a week or more. During the pandemic, that number more than doubled to 44%.
A definite increase, but we were headed there anyway: between 2000 and 2017, the number of remote employees increased by 159%.
This increase happened years before the pandemic.
We believe this means that remote work is here because technology enables it. We have the tools to ensure people can get their jobs done no matter where they are or what their situation is.
This means you benefit from exceptional talent who would otherwise be unable to accept your offer.
The return-to-office debate rages on, but we think the lack of lockdowns is not enough of a reason to expect remote employees to physically attend work.
Remote work is here to stay, and it provides amazing opportunities for employers:
Wider talent pool: You’re able to reach a much wider range of candidates when hiring for remote teams, including candidates who are a country or continent away
Greater productivity and performance: Contrary to popular belief, remote work enables greater concentration and increases productivity, but more on that below
Candidates want and expect it: Modern candidates expect flexible work, and many don’t consider a job that doesn’t at least offer flexible work as a part of the compensation and benefits package
More potential work hours: Across multiple time zones, you can have a wider range of open hours, especially if you’re recruiting internationally
Better for the environment: Leveraging remote employees means less commuting and fewer greenhouse gasses, additionally, it helps reduce overhead costs from utilities and resources like coffee and paper
Workers also desire to be in remote teams for their own benefits:
Schedule flexibility (especially great for parents and caretakers)
Accessible for disabled candidates
More opportunities globally
Saves time and money from commuting
This last point alone adds to the productivity and motivation your remote employees have. It’s draining to drive over an hour to get to work – both ways – but many workers have to. Without a lengthy commute, employees can have healthier work-life balances and more productive hours at work.
Now, we’re not saying it’s effortless. Let’s take a look at the challenges of managing remote employees next.
There are a handful of difficulties that many companies face with distributed work, such as managing remote teams, employee engagement, and remote team building.
Here are a few of the most common challenges:
Social isolation: Isolation and anxiety are two of the most prominent difficulties for remote workers. This makes engaging remote employees a top priority.
Gauging skills accurately: Many employers rely on in-person methods of gauging skills, such as physically watching someone work in a job trial or conducting an on-site unstructured interview.
Clear communication: Work can quickly become disorganized and chaotic if you don’t have a standardized way to contact and communicate with your remote employees.
Evaluating cultural alignment: When you have to gauge a candidate from miles away, you may lack the ability to gauge a candidate’s personality and cultural traits, which could result in a detrimental mis-hire
Employee burnout: When you don’t give remote employees the right amount of care, their workload could become too much and affect their mental health, causing burnout.
To read more insights, check out our article on hiring remote employees.
The challenges of managing remote employees can be overwhelming, but with the right strategies, you can reap all the benefits.
Leveraging flexible work offers a host of advantages, such as reduced costs and improved productivity.
Further, taking on remote employees also widens your talent pool and increases workplace diversity.
The benefits of remote work for employers make this strategy essential for your hiring plan, so dive into the five most important advantages:
There are many costs you can reduce or even eliminate when you recruit remote employees.
These costs include utilities and electricity and the little things that add up, such as coffee, napkins, cups, and paper.
Dave Rietsema, the founder and CEO of Matchr.com, estimates the amount of money companies save with remote work to be $11,000 per employee in terms of overhead costs, depending on the industry.
This includes utilities, resources, and office space. Some companies can go fully remote, which completely eliminates the need for an expensive office.
We wholly endorse this strategy – TestGorilla has a 100% remote workforce, and we’re thriving.
Encouraging remote employees in your company is a powerful way to help the environment.
For instance, transportation accounts for 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and data shows that 30% of that transportation is from work commuting.
A study conducted during the 2020 pandemic showed that emissions were reduced by 25% during the normal morning commute and 34% during the evening commute when many employees were under quarantine.
It’s also important to consider the environmental aspects of your CSR strategy. Committing your company to remote work to reduce emissions is a powerful move for gaining positive attention.
The productivity of remote teams is long-discussed and quite polarizing, but many studies back the effectiveness and performance of remote employees.
Another study during the COVID-19 pandemic found that technological advancements in the workplace led to more productivity in home office settings versus office settings.
This productivity appears to increase with the more autonomy you offer workers.
For example, one report found that flexible work policies that give the option to “work from anywhere” resulted in a 4.4% increase in employee output even compared to work-from-home policies.
For an in-depth look, check out our piece on work from home productivity.
Your hiring isn’t restricted to your physical location with remote employees. This enables you to reach people from all over the world and fill your talent pipeline with qualified professionals.
Here are a few demographics you reach more easily when hiring for remote teams:
Contingent workers and digital nomads
People with alternative sleep patterns
People who give full-time care to family
People in rural communities
Let’s use hiring candidates with disabilities as an example. More than 25% of US adults have some type of disability, and motor impairment is the most common type – 39 million Americans live with one.[5,6]
Facilitating remote work enables you to reach people who struggle with a traditional office environment (or can’t manage it at all).
Expanding your outreach outside your local market enables you to target more people, which means you can access more diversity and new perspectives.
Increased diversity brings a wealth of benefits to your workplace, including boosted innovation, creativity, productivity, and financial performance.
All of these benefits boil down to the simple fact that diverse thought leads to better problem-solving and ideation.
Using remote work to secure diverse candidates is important for all businesses but can be extremely beneficial to organizations that aren’t in large cities.
For example, New York City is one of the most diverse cities in America, with 39.78% of its citizens being White, 23.38% being Black, 14.25% being Asian, and 22.59% belonging to a wide range of other ethnicities.
But if your business is located in or around the village of Kiryas Joel, your local talent pool is going to be nearly 98.3% White.
Building a strategy to secure remote employees enables companies in less diverse areas to harness much-needed unique opinions that are otherwise unavailable.
Acquiring remote employees carries many benefits for employers and human resources managers. Still, you need to implement certain strategies to get it done right.
From onboarding remote employees to assessing skills from afar, we have seven solid tactics to build a successful strategy.
1. Use and provide the right remote tools
Build up your remote tech stack to make the hiring and working process smooth
2. Assess employee skills from afar using talent assessments
Gauge candidate skills and competencies accurately with skills tests
3. Create a cohesive remote culture and show it off
Build a strong remote work culture by hiring for culture add and leading from the top
4. Build a remote-positive employer brand
Promote your remote best practices through recruitment marketing and social media recruiting
5. Develop organized remote processes
Prioritize candidate relationship management to provide a great remote candidate experience
6. Design a valuable remote onboarding program
Welcome remote employees the right way with thoughtful guidance and introductions
7. Consider hybrid work models
Combine in-office and remote work to leverage the best of both worlds
Managing remote teams is easier and more effective when you have the right collaboration tools – we already mentioned that it’s the rise of technology that makes remote work so accessible.
For example, video conferencing software like Zoom facilitates standard job interviews and asynchronous interviews for candidates in different time zones.
Here are a few helpful additions to a remote tech stack:
Messaging channels like Slack and Google Chat help teams collaborate
Project management tools like Monday.com and Asana help remote employees organize their work and stay in sync with their teammates
Video conferencing tools help with interviewing candidates and having one-on-one meetings with remote employees
Recruiting tools like talent assessment software help you gauge candidate skills objectively no matter where they are in the world
Let’s elaborate on that last point in the next section.
Many ways of assessing employee capability rely on being in person, which can make gauging remote employees a struggle.
Here’s a look at the process:
After the candidates complete their tests, you can sort the results based on which candidates got the highest test scores.
Talent acquisition technology like this helps companies accurately determine the skills of remote employees without lengthy resume screening or relying on degree requirements.
And it’s effective, too. Our report found that 92.5% of organizations that used skills-based hiring reduced their number of mis-hires.
Some companies with remote employees struggle to maintain a good company culture. This means that remote employees dread a workplace with little cohesion, communication, and unity.
This means that workplaces that nail a cohesive culture are in high demand.
Here are a few actionable tips to boost your remote culture:
Role model your values and lead from the top
Build a great onboarding and work experience
Reward employees who uphold your culture
Maintain consistent communication with your tech stack
Hire for culture add, not culture fit
The Culture Add test is a useful tool for building your remote culture. Culture fit perpetuates a homogenous workforce, but encouraging culture add helps you find similar – yet unique – individuals that enrich your culture.
For more tips, read our post on building a cohesive culture in a remote environment.
Don’t forget to tell your candidates about your solid remote culture so they know if your company is right for them.
This leads us to our next point…
An employer brand refers to the value you have as an employer in the eyes of your candidates.
Your employer branding tells candidates what it’s like to work for you, so it’s important to communicate your remote policies and processes.
Candidates want remote work, but they won’t take just anything. They want an employer who shows they can support remote workers, engage them, and provide an excellent experience.
Try spreading your employer brand through your recruitment marketing campaigns. Here are a few suggestions:
Describe onboarding remote employees in your career newsletter
Describe your remote best practices on your website
Post about day-to-day remote life on your social media (or encourage your employees to)
Leveraging social media is a great tactic to promote your employer branding in tandem with recruitment marketing. For more information, read our blog on social media recruiting.
A large part of supplying a great remote candidate experience is how well you organize and execute remote processes. And these processes are different, so it pays to be mindful.
We recommend focusing on your candidate relationship management strategy to prioritize quick communication, which is one of the most common pitfalls of remote hiring.
CRM software helps you keep track of candidates, follow up with the right ones, and ensure no one slips through the cracks. This improves the candidate experience, even for unsuccessful candidates.
But for the candidates who get through and get hired, this experience should continue.
Onboarding is the first impression that every employee gets of your company, and it’s even more delicate with remote employees.
Some remote employees get an onboarding experience that’s made up of a simple handbook and a “good luck” – these employees won’t stay long and will have some choice words for that organization’s review page.
A successful company needs to follow onboarding best practices so its remote employees can get off on the right foot. Here are a few good ones:
Send all necessary digitized documents to your new worker
Send them a welcome email telling them what to expect on their first day
Let current employees know they have a new teammate
Assign them a buddy or mentor
Give the employee a roadmap with clear expectations
Onboarding remote employees requires its own unique process, but it’s no problem to design one. For more information, read our guide to virtual onboarding.
Are you interested in trying out remote employees, but your company can’t operate fully remotely? Hybrid work might be ideal for your organization.
Hybrid work is a combination of in-office and remote work. This could be an office where the workforce is split between fully in-office and fully remote employees, or it could be an office where all employees work in-office some of the time and remotely some of the time.
Many organizations benefit from adopting a hybrid work model. This practice is great for companies that can’t offer fully remote jobs but still want to provide employees with flexibility and reduce costs.
For more insights, read our full guide on the hybrid work model.
Here’s a quick look at three companies that are attracting great talent by hiring remote employees.
Why it’s successful
Reaches outside its local market to find the best
Builds an international team using skills tests
Hires great candidates with talent assessments and maintains a great culture
Tealbook, a supplier data company, finds high-quality candidates because it searches for remote employees all over the world.
Rather than settling for whoever’s in the area, this company reaches out to find the best.
Stephany Lapierre, the founder and CEO of Tealbook, said this about remote recruitment in the past:
"If a talented engineer wanted to work with us but couldn’t relocate from Chicago, we might have been tempted to hire a less experienced applicant who lived in our area."
But because the company now hires remote employees, this is no longer a concern.
The team at Tealbook uses tools to boost team building and collaboration, such as Slack to share updates and give shout-outs, and video calls to share information, get to know each other, and celebrate wins and anniversaries.
This company also has more dedicated, passionate employees because its workers have access to thousands of opportunities – but they chose TealBook.
Automattic, a fully remote software development company, has an excellent remote hiring process that's also skills-based.
This process starts with an application and interview and then moves to a paid trial project to gauge real work skills. If the candidate is an engineer, the hiring process also includes a coding test.
This fully remote process enables this company to accurately evaluate candidates from across the world and hire a global team. Automattic benefits from a diverse team that spans 95 countries.
It also nails one of our top best practices: it documents its remote hiring process and perks right on its website for potential candidates to read.
TestGorilla is 100% remote and proud. We have team members from all over the globe, from the US to the UK to South Korea.
We hire our remote employees by living by our own practices: We use talent assessments to recruit every new team member.
TestGorilla also has a great remote culture. We stay strong by taking part in remote team-building activities, chatting in our virtual water cooler, and lifting up each other’s accomplishments on our Slack channel.
We also have an annual meet-up in person to help us build and maintain great relationships.
How do these methods work? We’re a happy bunch with a healthy culture. Our roles match our skill sets well, making us more effective, efficient, and confident.
The benefits of remote work for employers aren’t things you can ignore.
This talent acquisition trend enables you to attract top talent, reduce costs, and open your talent pool.
Just remember to try out a few of our strategies, such as building a solid onboarding program, promoting your remote practices through social media, and assessing candidates with talent assessments.
Just like remote work, talent assessments are a great way to increase your diversity and inclusion. For more insights, read our guide on inclusive hiring.
To evaluate your next remote employee’s ability to process instructions from a distance, use our Understanding Instructions test.
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"Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions". (2021). EPA. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions
Davis, Morris A; Ghent, Andra C; Gregory, Jesse M. (February 2023). "The Work-from-Home Technology Boon and its Consequences". NBR. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28461/w28461.pdf
"Disability Impacts All of Us". (May 15, 2023). CDC. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html
"Disability Statistics in the US: Looking Beyond Figures for an Accessible and Inclusive Society". (April 8, 2022). Inclusive City Maker. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://www.inclusivecitymaker.com/disability-statistics-in-the-us/
"New York City, New York Population 2023". World Population View. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/new-york-city-ny-population
"Kiryas Joel, New York Population 2023". World Population View. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/kiryas-joel-ny-population
Lapierre, Stephany. (July 13, 2021). "Building a world-class workforce during the pandemic". Talent Management. Retrieved September 19, 2023. https://www.talentmgt.com/articles/2021/07/13/building-a-world-class-workforce-during-the-pandemic/
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