A Founder's Guide: Top Tips for Hiring Remotely Across Borders
All you need is a creative mindset, whether that's your own or through a dedicated people-oriented team.
One year into the pandemic, remote working remains mainstream; in turn, more companies are remote-first. What's increasingly clear is that this isn't temporary: recent data from Flexa.careers revealed that only 8 percent of professionals are happy to work in an office every day post-pandemic. In the latest State of Remote survey by Buffer, 98 percent of people surveyed said they wanted to remain working remotely (at least some of the time) for the rest of their career.
Businesses across the globe have mostly adapted to this new way of working but hiring in these circumstances is difficult for many. As such, founders should approach their businesses with the mindset that virtual recruitment and onboarding – which should include career development and training – is here to stay.
Recruitment and onboarding processes are specific to each company, depending on culture and size, but there are some good practices that bring substantial returns for the individual and the wider business.
The biggest onboarding challenges and how to solve them.
One of the biggest challenges any globally distributed company faces is providing a high-touch, personalised candidate experience. Nobody wants to be onboarded by a bot. Here, the less glamorous challenge of logistics can't be overlooked. For example, it can help to let joiners choose their workstation setup, including laptops and monitors.
Of course, when hiring across borders, shipping this equipment around the world on a tight timeframe is no mean feat, yet it can be a very worthwhile effort. To help streamline this process, a company representative from each geography can advise on local suppliers and services. Investing in this time enables a hands-on experience that makes new joiners feel supported before their first day.
Navigating different time zones can also be a challenging aspect of remote onboarding, so asynchronous communication can help. This could be as simple as recording audio or video information that employees can listen to in their own time, rather than scheduling a call that's supposed to work for everyone.
How to nurture new hires starting out.
The thing to remember is that new hires are entering a new virtual ecosystem, so context is everything. What this means is that new hires need to have context surrounding the people, product, business, and how everything works before they begin. That way, they can feel confident they're asking the right questions and are comfortable participating in conversations from the get-go.
Providing new hires with a buddy is a good place to start; pair them with someone who isn't on their immediate team, that they can go to with questions. From the outset this helps foster a sense of belonging whilst creating support systems, strengthening a company's internal network.
From there, have regular check-ins with new hires during their first three months. This enables entrepreneurs to collect feedback to improve internal processes while affording the new joiner's time to reflect on their experience and expectations about being part of your team.
Consistency is key, so make sure to maintain this approach when hiring any contract workers. Contractors should be onboarded in the same way as full-time employees – particularly important as more companies rely on flexible staff. Business leaders must provide the same experience to everyone, no matter their employment type; contracts may vary but, ultimately, everyone working for an organisation is playing on the same team.
Tips for developing company culture remotely.
A company is a collection of people. The exciting part is figuring out what makes each person tick and where there are overlapping interests. Super-charge this experience by creating opportunities for people to meet and get to know each other outside of work in different contexts. This is vital for establishing relationships beyond the day-to-day work, which is the key to building trust.
One way to do this is "Donut time"; Donut is a Slack extension that randomly pairs employees to grab a coffee together (virtual or otherwise) each week. WaterCooler is another great extension that pairs up team members and encourages them to take five minutes to talk about something unrelated to work. Creating different channels based on shared interests can really help. Literature lovers may start a virtual book club, food fiends a weekly cookalong, etc.
Encouraging employees to foster friendships outside of work can help boost productivity and inspire loyalty. The challenge is curating experiences that people regularly engage with and see as a major benefit. The best thing to do is roll out new initiatives as quickly as possible, collect feedback to see what works, and iterate accordingly.
We haven't even tapped into the amazing benefits of remote working, due to Covid-19 – but once people get a flavour of the freedom and flexibility remote work can bring, they won't want to go back. As the war for talent shows no signs of stopping, founders will have to adapt to attract the best candidates and gain a competitive edge.
Yes, you can never recreate the in-person experience of working from an office. However, there are so many services and innovations in the market that can support almost any initiative; all you need is a creative mindset, whether that's your own or through a dedicated people-oriented team. Be very intentional with your onboarding; approach it from the perspective of the new joiner and then find creative ways to effectively communicate everything they need to know so they can hit the ground running. After all, remote doesn't mean alone.