How to hire and manage remote employees

December 5, 2023 | 5 minute read

Remote work has gained popularity over the last decade, and the data suggests it’s here to stay. Researchers from the career’s website Ladders estimate that as of early 2022, 24% of all professional jobs posted in North America were remote and numbers will continue to rise1. With many workers favoring remote work arrangements due to the flexibility they provide — you may have an edge attracting talent and increasing workplace satisfaction if you offer remote positions.


Before you leap into hiring remote workers, devote some time to learning how to hire and manage remote employees. Here are some tips to make your remote hiring more successful.


Know what to look for in a remote worker

Before you hire a remote worker, be clear about what you need from them. Consider: 


  • The work they need to perform
  • Specific job-related skills and credentials needed for their position
  • Soft skills that will help them thrive in the job you want to fill


Many small business owners look for remote employees who can demonstrate a strong work ethic, the ability to solve problems independently, self-motivation, responsiveness to coaching, tech savviness and strong communication skills. 


Write a clear job description

Now that you have an idea of the types of skills that remote workers need, make sure you have a good grasp of the immediate and long-term needs of the role. This will help clearly define the role and responsibilities of the position. A detailed job description that includes required skills, experience and qualifications will help attract the right candidates and ensure that they are a good fit for the job.


Also include information about goals, deliverables and the work environment. If available, consider providing details about compensation and benefits. The more relevant detail you can provide, the more likely you are to find strong candidates. 


Where to find remote workers

A great to place to start is within your own network. Ask professional peers or your staff to recommend candidates with the right qualifications. If you need a wider pool of candidates, advertise your job opening on job boards and social media sites. Popular job boards include ZipRecruiter, Monster, Glassdoor, Indeed and FlexJobs (a site that specializes in remote workers). LinkedIn, a professional networking site, can also be a great place to find qualified remote workers.


Interviewing candidates

It’s a good idea to conduct your initial interviews for remote workers via your preferred video conferencing platform. Let candidates know which platform you use, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and ask them to install it ahead of time. Your candidates’ ability to get set up successfully will give you an idea of how they will handle the technical aspects of remote work.


During the interview, pay attention to your interviewees’ professionalism in a virtual environment. Are they dressed appropriately for a job interview? Are they conducting the conversation from a quiet room with an appropriate backdrop, whether real or virtual? How they present themselves in the interview will give you an idea of how they will do so in a virtual work environment.


Interview questions for remote workers

When you’re interviewing someone for a remote position, ask probing questions that will help you understand their communication style and ability to work independently. 


Here are some potential questions to ask when interviewing for a remote position: 


  1. How do you stay motivated and engaged when you work remotely?
  2. How do you stay organized and manage your time when working remotely?
  3. Can you give an example of a time when you had to solve a problem independently while working remotely?
  4. What do you consider the challenges of working remotely?
  5. What do you consider important attributes for a remote employee to possess?


You’ve found a great candidate. Now what?

Once you’ve identified a candidate, make sure to request professional references. Call each reference to verify your candidate’s experience, work history and qualifications. If this is your first time hiring an employee, see “Know the rules before hiring your first employee.” Once references have been verified, it’s time to extend an offer. Make sure your offer is in writing and that it includes a detailed job description that includes all remote work expectations, such as start date, schedule and any discussed contingencies and conditions.

Establish clear communication guidelines

Set clear communication guidelines early on. These should include work expectations, preferred communication methods and how often check-ins need to occur. Schedule regular meetings to discuss progress, answer questions and provide feedback. For consistency, establish a preferred channel of communication. Popular options are email, phone, text and messaging apps such as Slack.

Provide the necessary tools and technology

Remote employees need access to the necessary tools and resources to do their job effectively. This may include a laptop, communication software and a secure internet connection.


Managing a remote workforce

To make sure you and your team both benefit from remote work arrangements, it’s important to understand best practices when it comes to managing this type of workplace. These might include:

Fostering a sense of team and community

Creating a sense of common purpose and inclusion is critical so remote workers don’t feel isolated. One way to foster a sense of belonging is by creating opportunities for team members to connect and collaborate. For example, a small business could organize a weekly virtual coffee break where team members can catch up, share updates and chat about topics not related to work. Another option might be to establish a team chat channel, where employees can share interesting articles, ask for feedback or simply connect with one another. 

Providing opportunities for professional development

Regardless of where they work, your employees will seek professional development as part of their work experience. There are many ways to offer this. You might:


  • Offer access to online training and certification programs, webinars and conferences.
  • Encourage team members to attend live conferences related to the work they do.
  • Create a mentorship or coaching program, whereby team members can receive guidance and support from senior leaders, either in person or remotely.


By investing in your team’s professional growth and development, you can not only improve employee engagement and retention but also increase the overall productivity and effectiveness of your remote team. 

Encouraging work-life balance

Stressing the importance of work-life balance can give remote team members the assurance they need to unplug when their work is done so they don’t burn out. Set policies that encourage managers to respect employees’ personal time. Some businesses, for instance, restrict emails sent after work hours and on weekends.

Recognizing and rewarding hard work

It’s easy for remote team members to feel unappreciated because no one sees the hard work they put in. That can hurt the camaraderie, culture and productivity of your workforce.


Look for ways to let your employees know you value their work and appreciate them as human beings, whether it’s by offering a bonus, showcasing the projects of team members who go above and beyond in your newsletter or sending cupcakes to their house on their birthday.


Remote work is here to stay

Interest in remote work has accelerated during the past few years, and now that many workers have tried it and found they like it, it’s here to stay. Learning how to build and manage a remote workforce successfully can give your business a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining the people you need to take your business to new heights. 

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