These are some practices that we have found effective when managing staff from the Staff.com platform. There is an initial learning curve to overcome when dealing with completely virtual staff, but it’s worth it! The benefits are very significant when you get everything set up correctly.
So here are the 10 tips to succeed with hiring:
1. Communicate with your staff constantly on Skype
When you’re working in an office you tend to bump into each other and discuss issues in an informal “got a minute” manner. But working virtually, you don’t have the luxury of constant contact so you need a communication channel where you feel like you’re in the same room even if you’re actually on the other side of the world.
Our preferred tool for this is Skype. This means our staff needs to have Skype on ALL THE TIME when working. We make sure that all our staff are available on Skype and that we use it to communicate with each other every day.
2. Provide an orientation
Whenever you hire new employees you will normally provide some sort of orientation where you introduce them to other staff members, you get them set up with their email address, show them the systems that they will be working with in their job, etc. This is also critical for remote staff. You want to provide an orientation where they feel like they are being introduced to all the right people and are getting to know the company a little bit.
If you are hiring a lot of people you might want to set up a process for this such as a series of videos explaining your business and culture.
3. Over-communicate in the initial period
In the initial weeks after hiring someone, communicate more than necessary and encourage your staff member to communicate constantly with you and your other team members. This provides a bond of trust and makes sure that you are ironing out any issues before they become significant.
4. Create very clear expectations
With remote work it’s critically important to set a clear expectation of what should be achieved in the job. The expectation should be based on a realistic assessment of what is possible. For example if you say “I want you to research 500 companies per hour”, this might be a totally unrealistic expectation and it’s only fair that you try it yourself for at least 1 hour to see what is possible.
In specialized roles such as development or accounting the expectations are more difficult to set. One method is to ask the staff to set their own expectations. Ask them to set a realistic expectation and then evaluate if you feel happy with the expectation that they have set for themselves.
5. If you’re not happy with a staff member deal with it quickly
If your staff member is unreliable in their attendance we will be in constant contact with them to find out what is going on and how to rectify the situation. However ultimately attendance and reliability is not enough. You need someone who is producing the results that you want in your business. This is something that only you can know.
If you feel your staff member is not producing the results you need, it’s best to make a quick decision about this so that we can either figure out how to fix the situation or hire someone new to replace them. Don’t let a situation like this drag on for weeks or months. Try to deal with it quickly within a one-week period.
6. Create a background task that they can do when not busy
You are hiring someone for a long-term full time (or part-time) role. This means that they need to always have something to do. It’s great if you can give them some background or lower priority tasks that they can do when they finish all of their primary priorities.
7. Give lots of praise and encouragement
Everybody loves praise, and this is critical to build a good working relationship. Most staff and especially good staff are not working just for money. They also want respect and acknowledgement of the work that they are doing. They want to feel like they are part of something interesting and inspiring.
8. Training is essential
For most job roles you cannot simply place the person in the role and expect them to perform without any guidance. You need to help them get oriented and set up with their work. Yes they will need certain skills to accomplish the job. You do not need to provide training in these basic areas such as: English skills, programming skills etc. However you do need to provide training about how your company works and the processes and systems that you use in your company.
9. Provide precise systems and procedures
Some smaller businesses try to get by with a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach without any systems or procedures. In an office environment it’s possible to compensate for this somewhat by bumping into each other and providing an ad-hoc in-person training.
In a remote environment, systems and procedures are essential. You need to make sure that you have a precise process for everything in your business. Your staff can and should be a part of developing and improving these processes, but the initial work of creating them will normally be done by yourself and your core team. If you need help with this, contact your Staff.com rep and we will organize some guidance around how to do this effectively.
10. Make sure it’s not all about work
In a normal office environment, colleagues chat about family, get to know each other over a beer and generally spend some time together socially. Although this is much more difficult when working remotely, it’s still an important human need to fulfill. You can do it over video chat (we recommend Google Hangout), or voice chat, or simply over Skype text chat. Celebrate birthdays, tell occasional jokes and don’t make it all about work.