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How to spot candidates with the potential to work from home

Allen Associates, News and Blog

The last few months have significantly changed the way that we work. As businesses adjusted to working from home, a new challenge has emerged for recruiters. Namely, how to spot candidates with the potential to work effectively from home.

The last few months have significantly changed the way that we work. As businesses adjusted to working from home, a new challenge has emerged for recruiters. Namely, how to spot candidates with the potential to work effectively from home.

Whilst many employees will have adapted to remote working, there will be many others who may have struggled. Homeworking isn’t for everyone, and whilst many have coped over the last few months due to the extreme circumstances, there will be many workers who will be actively looking forward to getting back into the office and returning to some resemblance of their ‘normal’ routine. However, many companies are now considering making the switch to full-time remote working. They have seen that working from home remains productive and they may take the opportunity to reduce significant overheads. For these companies, they now have an added challenge when it comes to future recruitment plans. How can they adequately tell if a candidate will be able to work effectively from home?

We take you through a step-by-step guide to share our insights into what employers should be looking for when it comes to recruiting remote workforces.

1. Does the applicant have a dedicated workspace?

Over the last few months, individuals have been desperately trying to find the right working environment as they began working from home. Whilst working from the kitchen table has been manageable for many, this is a short-term option, and those who are applying for permanent remote roles may need to have a dedicated workspace. As employers, we know the value of working from an effective environment. Having space to work, a quiet place to avoid distractions and a comfortable chair are essential.

When it comes to remote recruitment, employers should always ask an applicant about their working environment. For sectors where confidentiality is crucial, employers will need to factor workspaces into their risk assessments. For example, is there a dedicated office space? Does it have a lockable door? Would the office space have lockable cabinets to secure personal data? If employees are working from home permanently, businesses need to be reassured that individuals are adhering to GDPR in the same way as if they were office-based.

2. Does the applicant have a track record of working dependently?

Working remotely brings its challenges. One of these is having the ability to remain productive whilst working independently. Unlike office environments where it’s easier to spot the signs of an employee slacking off, remote workforces are built upon a foundation of trust and honesty.

Employers need to look for the signs which will show that a candidate can work well by themselves. Some people may thrive working at home independently, whilst others may be easily distracted by household chores or struggle with isolation. We’ve recently written about the various home working styles to help employees understand what type of homeworker they are. We recommend that employers factor in these different personality types to establish if the applicant is right for the role.

When it comes to interviewing questions, employers may wish to ask candidates about their experiences of working independently. For example, questions could include:

  • Have they worked from home before? If so, what was the biggest challenge?
  • How have they managed to communicate with co-workers whilst remaining at home?
  • What examples can they share of moments when they have worked independently?
  • Have they a track record in getting work done with minimal supervision?

As you can see, these may be new considerations that may not have previously been factored in when recruiting for an office-based worker.

3. Does the applicant have the self-discipline to work from home?

The last few months have shown us that working home takes real discipline. It’s difficult to remain focused on work tasks when you can see household chores piling up. Some people may be distracted by the radio, or the television whilst others may be distracted by what is happening outside.

Of course, other people will thrive with the solitude and flexibility that remote working can bring. But as an employer, how can you establish who will be able to work effectively from home in the long-term? Many workers may have been productive over the last few months as the initial change felt exciting, but once this excitement has passed, it can be easy to slip into bad habits.

Employers may start to seek out applicants who can show examples of their discipline and self-resolve. It may be through looking at their career history, or it could be through looking at their hobbies and outside interests. For example, an individual who is a keen runner or part of a sports team may be able to easily describe their natural tendencies towards self-discipline and self-motivation. They may be a candidate who thrives upon routine and structure. In which case, employers may start to feel more confident that the person would be ideally suited to a remote-working role.

4. Does the applicant have good communication skills?

Remote workers need to have exceptional communication skills. Office-based colleagues may take for granted the ease in starting conversations or asking questions to others. For those working in collaborative professions such as marketing, the ability to inspire ideas and campaigns from others is an intrinsic part of their work. Therefore, employers may need to consider how they can replicate this across a remote workforce.

Whilst being able to demonstrate independent working is a requirement of any potential remote worker, employers also need to feel confident that communication skills are strong. Having the ability to liaise with other colleagues and collaborate effectively is a core part of any team, and these challenges are heightened when teams are not working in close quarters. Therefore, employers should pay attention to an applicant’s project management skills. Are they able to demonstrate how they’ve effectively worked with others? Have they any experience in using tools such as Basecamp or Slack? What is their preferred method of communication – do they rely on emails or do they prefer to call when they have a query?

It’s important that employers still retain sight of the ‘team’ focus when it comes to recruitment. Although staff may now be working from home, there will still be new challenges that will involve working and collaborating. Therefore, employers need to feel confident that any recruits still fit into the ‘team ethos’ of the organisation.

5. Does the applicant have strong technical skills?

A clear disadvantage of working from home is not having easy access to technical support. Whilst many IT departments have been able to resolve issues remotely, some technical issues will require dedicated engineers. Any downtime caused by technical issues can wreak havoc upon productivity, so it’s important that employers feel confident that any potential recruits are relatively tech-savvy.

It’s not just about being able to use a desktop computer competently, it’s also about feeling confident that a new recruit can pick up internal systems and processes intuitively. Unlike office starters, it may be impossible to physically show a new worker how to use a system, or where to find specific files and folders. Therefore, remote workers may require additional technical ‘nouse’ to show their capabilities.

A final consideration is that of the applicant’s Wi-Fi connection. Fast internet speeds cannot be taken for granted and many workers may have slower internet speeds. Therefore, employers may need to consider if they will have to provide any additional tools or resources which could support productivity and enable a new recruit to work effectively.

There are many different factors to consider when recruiting for remote workers. Our team of expert recruiters work closely with our clients to help find the right candidates for the job. To find out how we can support your recruitment plans, please get in touch

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