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Post: The Startup Magazine The Biggest Challenges Of Hiring A Remote Team



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A growing number of companies are hiring remote employees. A remote workforce can have many benefits including:

  • Access to a wider range of candidates who don’t have to live in commuting distance
  • Costs saved due to reduced office space needs
  • Happier employees as a result of no commute and flexible working hour options

Of course, hiring a remote workforce does come with its challenges.

remote employees

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These challenges can put off some employers, but can generally be easily solved using tech and a bit of creativity. Below are just some of the biggest challenges that remote working poses and how to overcome them.

Supplying tools and equipment

Your employees will need certain equipment and tools to work. This could involve a laptop, phone, internet connection and various types of software. There is no legal obligation to supply this equipment to employees. However, demanding that employees pay for these supplies could be seen as uncourteous and stingy.  

You’ll attract more candidates and keep employees happy if you agree to supply equipment. This could include purchasing and shipping equipment to their address or giving them funds to buy their own equipment. The prior option tends to be better, as you can select the most appropriate equipment and make sure that it has all the right software installed. 

Should you pay for employees’ internet connection? This is typically not necessary as the internet is something many of us use for personal use too. However, some employees may pay an allowance towards it or pay to supply internet in order to make sure the connection is strong enough for work purposes.

When hiring independent contractors, it is acceptable to ask them to supply all tools and equipment themselves. However, an independent contractor is not an employee – they are technically self-employed and have greater freedoms than an employee. This is something that you need to weigh up.

Time zone differences

Hiring remote employees gives you the freedom to recruit workers from different states or countries who may operate in different time zones. This can have benefits – if you have clients who are based in different time zones, you may be able to hire employees in the same time zone in order to communicate more easily with them. The downside is that you will be working at a different time to them.

You can ask employees to adjust to your time zone’s working hours, however this could limit who you can hire as some remote applicants may not be willing to work night shifts or twilight shifts to fit in with your schedule. An alternative option is to let remote employees choose their own working hours with the exception of the occasional meeting to ‘catch up’ (which could be scheduled at a time that is most suitable for both of you). It depends very much on the amount of communication you need with your team.

When scheduling meetings with staff in other time zones, make sure that the time of the meeting is clear. Is it 4pm in their time zone or 4pm in theirs? Stating the time of the meeting like this ‘10.00 am (New York), 3.00 pm (London)’ could eliminate any confusion. 

Communication issues 

It’s easy to communicate information throughout the day when you’re in the same office. When communicating with remote employees, you must rely on technology to communicate. There are four main options: emails, instant messaging, voice calls or video calls.

Video calls are the closest replacement to physical communication, because you can see an employee’s face as you’re talking to them. However, face-to-face communication is not always necessary, and it has its downsides – unscheduled video calls may be seen as invasive, while too many video calls can lead to ‘zoom fatigue’. It is best to reserve video calls for special meetings. 

Audio calls can be carried out by cell phone or by VoIP. They are a less invasive form of communication than zoom calls, but can still be annoying if you’re relying constantly on them throughout the day. Instant messaging is the best option for relaying quick information that doesn’t necessarily need an immediate response. It can also be good for sending files and links. Email is the slowest option, but can be good for sending lengthy written information or written information that you want to be able to easily refer back to.

Regular communication is encouraged to maintain a good working relationship with employees. However, you shouldn’t constantly be messaging or calling employees throughout the day. This post offers more information on how to communicate effectively with your remote team.

Security risks

Remote employees can pose a security risk – especially if they’re working from insecure public wi-fi or using unprotected devices. Sensitive data that you may be able to contain in an office may have to be shared on the cloud. As a result, there’s a greater risk it could fall into the wrong hands.

Information will typically need to be shared on a secure cloud server. You’ll need to make sure that log-ins are secure and that passwords are regularly updated. To make sure that remote workers’ wi-fi is secure, some employers encourage their employees to use a VPN. 

Another way to make sure remote employees are working securely is to supply devices that have security software installed on them by your company. You can then be sure that the devices they are using are not vulnerable. Security could similarly be a good motive for paying for an employee’s internet connection, as you can make sure that their internet meets certain standards.

This data security overview explains more ways to keep your business secure when hiring a remote workforce. Outsourcing a cybersecurity firm could be useful for helping you to implement security measures. 

Monitoring employee progress

Some employers don’t like the idea of not being able to physically monitor employees to check that they are working and to see what progress they are making. However, there are ways to monitor employees using tech.

There are many apps that allow you to set tasks that employees can tick off once they’ve completed. If employees are working on documents, you can meanwhile get them to work on cloud documents that you can access at any time to see their progress. Finally, there is screen monitoring software or call monitoring software that you can use. Of course, this can only be installed on work devices and you must warn employees before you implement it.

It’s important to note that using too much tech to monitor employees could be seen as invasive. Exercising a certain level of trust can make employees happier and more productive. Unless a remote employee is underperforming or you’re having trouble getting hold of them, there may not be any reason to closely monitor them.

Keeping employees motivated

While many employees report being happier working at home than in an office, many can still suffer from loneliness or feel housebound. It’s often easier to monitor the mood of employees in a physical office and take action. This is why it’s important to regularly check in on remote employees and introduce measures to keep them motivated.

There are a few different tricks you can use to motivate remote employees, including:

  • Providing benefits that encourage employees to get out of the house such as the option of hybrid working or offering regular gift cards to coffee shops.
  • Providing benefits that encourage employees to stay active in their free time such as paid gym memberships or discounts to local restaurants/movie theaters. 
  • Rewarding loyal employees with pay rises and other benefits like more paid time off.
  • Creating a work group chat that encourages remote employees to interact with one another.
  • Adding humor to emails and allowing some personal life chatter during Zoom calls.

By getting creative, you may be able to find other ways to motivate remote employees.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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