Major disruptions like COVID-19 push us to rethink previous norms. More companies are now realizing that remote work can work. With a bigger shift to distributed teams, recruiting and onboarding are likely to change for good.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on many people, both financially and mentally. For the majority of us, there is a general sense of anxiety about what comes next and how this will ultimately affect us and the ones we love.
Major disruptions bring major challenges, but they also bring opportunities as we are pushed to rethink previous norms. For me, a bright spot is that more companies have realized that remote work can work.
Remote work is nothing new. Many companies have operated successfully as partly, mostly, or entirely distributed teams for years. Today, we are seeing a bigger shift to remote work and a feeling that when possible, maybe a remote office should be the default.
With this shift, more companies are realizing that geography is less important or entirely irrelevant for recruitment. For some companies, this means that the best talent can be accessed regardless of where they live and without the need to relocate.
If location no longer matters, how will this change recruiting and onboarding after COVID-19 passes? Let’s take a look at three areas that will likely change in some way forever.
1. Employee influencers will be needed to attract candidates.
Recruitment has traditionally been an intensely local and personal process. Even as marketing teams have leveraged the internet to reach customers all around the world, recruiting teams still often rely heavily on job fairs, open houses, and local agency recruiters with their local talent networks. With the ability to cast a much wider net, recruiters will need to catch up and become more creative marketers.
Recruiters will learn how to engage employees to find more people that are like their best people. This will take them beyond traditional employee referral programs, viewing employees more as influencers. Recruiters will reach the right skillsets and industry experience by tapping into their employee’s personal and professional networks. Take it a step further and employee-generated content like technical blogs and employee stories can give talent an authentic view of the company culture, in the absence of face-to-face meetings at local job fairs and open houses.
2. Candidates will need to be built for remote work.
Buzz terms like “self-motivated”, “results-driven”, and “self-starter” regularly show up on job ads, but seldom actually get evaluated through the interview process. With a shift to more remote staff, recruiters and hiring managers will need to learn how to assess traits that give new hires a fighting chance of being successful in a remote work situation.
In general, all hiring can benefit from a more disciplined candidate screening, interviewing, and evaluation process. We are likely to see this improve as in-person interviews become more rare, and managers become less likely to rely on their gut instinct for hiring decisions. The best corporate recruiters already use formal candidate scorecards to fully define the job, the candidate requirements, and the evaluation strategy, before recruiting for a position starts. With these in place, managers can be confident that the required skills and experience are fully understood before decisions are made.
3. Creative employee onboarding will set people up for success.
Companies who see home offices as a big cost-savings opportunity may miss out on getting the most from their remote employees. Working from home is nothing new, but it hasn’t been the norm. As a result, a lot more attention has been put on workplace optimization in offices, rather than specific configurations for effective home offices. Companies will need to set standards for home offices based on the type of work the employee will be doing. The home work environment will need to be reimagined to ensure an effective workspace, and this will require some help from the company.
To make all this work, employee onboarding will need to tighten up for a lot of companies. This may include consultations and planning prior to the employee’s start date, to ensure that they are properly set up to work remotely. Done right, this will be an opportunity to build a very positive experience for the employee. Imagine, an office in a box- where new hires are shipped all the necessary equipment for working at home as part of a new virtual onboarding experience. Maybe they include some kind of celebratory components like a shirt, a hat, and a welcome card signed by all the members of the team – maybe even a burst of confetti when the employee opens the box. Some may even brand the equipment, desk, printer, or chair with the logo of the company.
They’re hired and onboarded, now what?
Now the work starts – for the manager. To get the most from self-motivated, results-driven, remote employees, managers need to be clear on the results they expect. It is just as important for remote employees to understand how their work contributes to achieving the company's purpose and vision. This helps them to build a connection to the team and a sense of purpose, in the absence of regular in-person team interaction. Companies that don’t already employ a planning system and formal performance management, will be at a disadvantage and will need to adjust.
Collaboration and creativity may not come as naturally to a distributed team. Managers won’t be able to rely on serendipity or casual conversation in the office to spur creativity. Again, setting up the right environment for collaboration is key. Creative collaboration can be executed by establishing designated teams to work solely on this task. Creating a connection during a period of disconnection can insight creativity.
While we are adapting to a physically-distanced world, we’re being forced to overcome our fear of a remote workforce. As we gain more experience, we’re finding out that the fears we once had, are largely unfounded. People are productive, the work gets done, and with a little adjustment, you’ll be able to get even more out of your remote team.
So, what do you think? Are you and your organization prepared to hire and onboard more remote employees?