Success in a traditional office environment does not guarantee similar accomplishment in a remote setting. A realm of other factors comes in to play when telecommuting, and many knowledgeable, hard-working people simply do not thrive under alternate arrangements.
For employers, the challenge becomes selecting candidates who possess desired hard and soft skills and invoke confidence that they can perform up to par outside of a standard workplace. While only time reveals the merit of decisions, leaders can take steps to stack the odds in their favor.
Here are several ways to assess the potential of someone being a good remote worker:
The resume contains past telecommuting experience.
People who have worked remotely before, even in a part-time capacity, have a clearer idea of what telecommuting entails. They understand the importance of time management, function fine without managers and colleagues nearby, and know whether they are productive and happy on their own.
“We look for people who have shown initiative and ability to work independently and place a high value on those who have previously worked remotely,” says Carrie McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services. “Success in a remote position is one of our priorities, as we understand that as attractive as it is to work from home, it is not for everyone.”
The answer to “Describe your home office” is adequate.
Serious remote workers know the value of a dedicated, quiet space. The set-up needn’t be fancy, but it should be sufficient for holding work-related materials and staying free from distraction. Someone who can’t readily talk about such an environment hasn’t thought enough about the logistics of working from home.
Cover letter, resume, email correspondence, and other material display professional writing skill.
“The importance of written communication cannot be overstated,” says Coby Chapple, product designer at GitHub. “When you’re remote, a majority of the way you interface with the world will be through written word, so it’s critical that you can articulate complex concepts and subtleties. Giant walls of text aren’t fun either, so it’s important to keep things concise.”
The applicant seems like a self-starter.
A person who responds quickly and thoroughly to emails, confidently asks questions, and tackles trial assignments without a ton of hand-holding demonstrates the type of initiative needed to take charge of one’s work without frequent managerial intervention.
The candidate can sensibly discuss the challenges of remote work.
During the interview, ask about common obstacles of home-based work and how to overcome them. Think twice about candidates who cannot think of any potential problems. Instead, seek out realistic applicants who are honest about issues such as motivation, distractions, engagement, and technical problems and are willing to address them in a mature, professional manner.
You see evidence of a life outside of work.
This last thing to look for may sound a little strange initially. Remember, though, that office life is a central social hub for some people. Without these daily interactions, job satisfaction can decrease.
“If someone is going to be working from home, then it’s really important that they have hobbies, friendships, and things to do outside of work,” Chapple says. “Without something else to help them switch off and decompress, it’s much easier to end up burning out.”
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