5 Areas Where Remote Workers Should Excel
Even if you’re one of those forward-thinking managers who is looking to hire a remote developer, there’s a chance that you haven’t worked from home long-term yourself. If you’re used to spending your day in an office, with the structure of a 9-5 working day and the sandwich van arriving in time for lunch, it can be hard to imagine what an unstructured day is like. And I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve asked me things like, ‘But don’t you get distracted working from home? How do you stay disciplined?’
And wondering whether the person you’re interviewing will be reliable in a remote placement is a concern (unless of course, you use a boutique remote recruitment agency like us, who do all the pre-checking for you – get in touch right here). We would certainly advise that when interviewing remote developers, that you focus more on how they work than whether they can pass a whiteboard test.
We’ve recently talked about what questions you should ask in a remote interview, which includes questions about some of the critical skills that a remote worker needs. But if this is your first venture into the remote economy, how are you going to know that they are giving you the answers you need? Worry no more, we’re going to talk about that now!
Perhaps the single most important quality that a telecommuter can have is the ability to communicate well. Your remote team members need to be able to express themselves using the written word, for email, skype and slack (or whichever systems your company uses) but also in person for video and voice calls.
Remote communication needs to be a couple of things. It needs to be:
- Accurate – Not just correct in what is said but also unambiguous. Whatever is said needs to be clearly understood, so the language is best kept simple and the meaning nice and clear.
- Concise – We’ve all had that email come around that takes half an hour to read but only tells us one thing. You don’t want your time or that of your team taken up reading messages padded with self-important fluff. Brevity is the soul of wit, and all that.
- Professional – Or, if your team prefers to communicate on a more informal basis, at least written with care for each other’s feelings. It is very easy to get offended by written messages because they lack the context of body language cues.
- Frequent – If there’s a problem, you need to know about it. So, you’re looking for staff who are willing to send a message of make a call, even when they’ve made a mistake.
And communication is a two-way street. It isn’t just what they say to you that matters, but how they interpret messages from others. We advocate using Hanlon’s Razor, which states, ‘Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.’ In other words, don’t assume someone is rude, dismissive or thoughtless when it could just be that they’ve expressed themselves badly’.
Questions to ask
How do you prefer to communicate when you’re working remotely?
Tell me when you’d choose to explain something via email rather than through voice call.
Has a message you’ve sent ever been interpreted the wrong way?
Before you start interviewing, you need to think about what hours you want your remote developer to be working. Will they work your office hours, regardless of time zone, or will they be working on their terms? There are pros and cons to both, although at DistantJob we advocate the former because we think it makes life easier all round.
But for many digital nomads, the flexibility of remote work is what attracts them. Rather than assuming everyone does their best work during business hours, it lets staff take control and do their job when they think they work best. For some that’s very early in the morning, for others it might be the evening.
Questions to ask
What time of day do you think you’re most productive?
Describe your working day.
Remote workers have more control over what they do, and when. Whether it’s working outside regular hours or just setting their timetables, distributed staff work better when they’re able to control their workflow. But before you trust someone to do that, you want to know that important things aren’t going to get forgotten.
This is particularly true for staff who will be working in a different time zone so that they can make sure they’ve got access to everything they need and don’t end up getting stalled because a colleague isn’t around to checking something with.
Questions to ask
How do you manage your time?
How would you make sure you had everything you needed for the job you were doing?
Have you ever had a project run over on time? What lessons did you learn from that?
The chances are that you have identified which tools you want to use for your remote team. In an ideal world, your candidate will be familiar with those but even if they aren’t it’s likely that they’ve got some experience in using cloud-based or online collaboration software.
Being open and willing to work via these tools is vital for remote workers. Whether it’s a simple chat program or a virtual whiteboard, these are the things that help build a sense of what the team is trying to achieve and how that is going to be done.
Questions to ask
What are your favorite tools for remote working?
If you wanted to share an idea with a colleague that needed collaboration, how would you do that?
As we’ve said in this article, when teams are working in different time zones it can present some challenges to scheduling. What you want to see from your remote candidate is an awareness of the time differences between you and them and possible suggestions as to how they might overcome them if there is little to no overlap.
Questions to ask
What’s the time difference between you and us?
If we needed to call a meeting at 9 am our time, would you be able to attend?
Digital Nomads tend to want to work remotely because they are self-starters. They don’t need to be micromanaged (seriously, don’t do it) and they’re good at coming up with solutions to problems when they face them. But the easiest way to ensure that the candidate you’re talking to doesn’t just have excellent technical skills but also knows how to work well remotely? Ask us to help. We spend our days head-hunting the very best remote developers from around the world, and every CV we send you will be pre-vetted for excellent. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.