When I tell people that I work remotely, people say things like: “you are so lucky, you must do nothing all day” and “how do people know if you are even working?”. Worse yet “how do you know that your employees are not just going for a hike when they should be bringing in more accounts?”. Honestly, I hope they are going for a hike, it’ll probably help them close more accounts/ do whatever their job is better, but that’s a whole other blog post. I think we need to talk about why people ask those questions before we decide if remote recruits need previous remote work experience.
People actually think remote workers are watching TV all day. This Gallup poll shows that more than a third of the US workforce has worked from home (at some point), yet most people think that I’m eating cereal in my PJ’s Monday-Friday. Luckily, Forbes thinks otherwise. It turns out that productivity and morale is actually higher with remote employees.
The “is my employee going to watch Netflix all day?” question brings about an even deeper issue that needs to be addressed: Trust. In sales, if you understand why someone is motivated to buy your product, you have a higher chance of closing them. Same can be said for hiring, if you can understand what motivates a prospective employee, you’ll have a good idea of how hard they are going to work for you.
If you are worried about your remote worker having lot’s of questions, hire people with startup experience. Working at a startup or small company requires tenacity, many hats need to be worn. Not to mention, there are so many great project management software and chat tools, micromanagement from a distance has never been so easy!
Lastly, remote workers are hard workers. We already talked about productivity but work efficiency and work ethic are factors too. Here’s another cool study talking about remote workers getting more done, more efficiently. As managers, maybe we shouldn’t be asking ourselves if remote work experience is necessary, but instead, do we understand our recruits motivators? Do we feel that we can trust this person? Are they Tenacious? Are they a problem solver? Whether or not remote workers need previous remote experience really becomes a function of how good the employee is overall.
To sum this up – In my experience, prior remote work experience is not necessary. It’s more about hiring a good employee. If you hire a bad employee in office, he/she is going to sit around and get awesome at looking busy, this same person is going to binge watch shows if you let them work from home. Yes, even with all of the technology in the world, sometimes your remote workers are going to have a question that needs to get answered, and you are not in the same space (or sometimes not even in the same country). But if you hire great overall workers, the impact of this dilemma is pretty small. Basically, just shore up your overall hiring process, and it won’t matter where your people are working.