Many companies have survived working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all have thrived.

In researching the pandemic’s impact, the authors of a Harvard Business Review article on remote managers’ trust issues found that almost one-third of hiring managers say that their employees lack the skills and knowledge needed to effectively work remotely. Additionally, almost 40% of managers doubt their ability to manage workers remotely.

Hiring a professional remote worker who is experienced in producing quickly and consistently outside of a physical office is key to growing a business while working remotely. Find your next top performer by considering your needs, starting with the following questions.

1. What has created the opening that you want to fill?

When a full-time worker leaves, your first inclination is to backfill the position. But what if the business needs have changed since the last hire?

Perhaps sales have increased or investor money has created opportunities to expand, for example. Determine what type of position and resource would help your company the most. In doing so, you may decide that backfilling open roles with another full-time worker would not be the best choice.

Mid-market companies commonly use freelancers to accelerate growth because they can quickly complete projects requiring specific expertise or capabilities beyond the existing workforce, according to EY Global. In a blog post about the gig economy, EY Global says, “The benefits of accessing skilled labor on short notice and with limited commitment are particularly valuable in the fast-growth, agile environment of scaling smaller companies.”

2. Will you be hiring for general needs or a specific purpose? 

Remote hiring and onboarding for traditional employees is the new normal during a global pandemic. However, you could probably add talent quicker and save money by hiring specific experts for specific needs.

Companies are increasingly hiring freelance talent because of their specialized skills and expertise. Jobs are often done sooner and better as a result. If you want to compete as a business, you should be putting speed and quality first.

3. What levels of professional experience and technology proficiency do you require?

Office workers who have recently transitioned to working remotely may handle rudimentary work well or provide team cohesion and coordination as they move into leadership positions, even if they are not particularly effective when working remotely. You likely need more experienced help, however, to solve complex problems or seize timely opportunities.

Consider any education requirements, certifications or work- or industry-specific expertise you may need. Then you can determine whether you could hire a less experienced remote worker or if you would need a more seasoned professional instead.

During the interview process, look at how well prospective workers use technology to ensure that they will be able to work efficiently while remote. Interview questions need to examine if the remote employee can work with collaboration tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. These communication technologies are essential to successful remote work.

4. Will this be a long-term remote position?

You may want to look for candidates who have a history of working with employers for a long time if you want someone who will also work for you for several years. If you want immediate help, though, you should consider professionals who have completed projects for many companies. These workers will be more accustomed to maximizing their short-term production than employees who are used to producing over the long term.

If you’re hiring remote employees for the long haul, perhaps you’d like to find employees who have had both short term project experience mixed with long term tenures within companies. They will ultimately bring versatility and staying power to your company. These prospects will also have great self-management skills as they are accustomed to working alone and within teams.

5. How much are you willing to invest in recruiting and hiring?

The hiring process can be a full-time endeavor that takes much of your time. It also can be expensive in terms of advertising costs, the effort required of your team, and the productivity you lose as long as the position is open.

If you are comfortable with all of this, then by all means go ahead and fill the position with a permanent hire. Alternatively, you could eliminate recruiting and onboarding costs by leveraging freelance talent. You may be able to fill a position quicker through a managed marketplace, than a job board, that matches pre-vetted freelance professionals to employers based on business needs, for example.

6. How long can you wait for a new hire to achieve maximum productivity?

A full-time hire can take eight months to reach full productivity, according to the 2013 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey. That may be fine if you are convinced that you will need someone to work 40 hours a week indefinitely.

However, if you cannot wait for a hire to get fully up to speed, then freelance talent may be the way to go. A freelance professional produces immediately by drawing upon their experience and expertise.

7. How comfortable would you be hiring someone who has little or no experience working remotely or who does not want to work from home? 

If you are among the companies whose teams have produced more at home than in the office, then congratulations: You have some skilled remote workers and team members. This is especially good news given that remote work will likely be the status quo well into 2021. However, if you are looking for more productivity from your workforce, you’ll want to prioritize hiring someone who has both the desire and experience to work remotely as well as the necessary discipline and tools.

Hiring someone who just started working from home in 2021 is not the same as hiring a professional remote worker. Consider your needs carefully if you want to thrive instead of just survive with your workforce. Paro provides fully remote finance professionals to meet organizational needs. Contact us to learn more about our remote finance experts who are vetted for both a great culture fit and great in a remote job position.