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"remote-first" as the new norm and how your company can hire well remotely

The corporate world has seen major shifts over the past two years to accommodate the ever changing COVID-19 pandemic. It is no surprise that after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic the percentage of employees working remotely increased massively to 70% in 2022, with 97% of employees reporting they would work remotely for the rest of their lives, even if it was just part time. These changes have caused companies and their HR departments to dramatically shift their work culture to cater to employees' flexible working requirements. It’s certain that the working world is moving towards remote-first, which means working remotely is the primary option for most or all employees. Here is what can be learnt from the success of others and the best practices to implement it successfully in your company.



Remote-first structured organisations


Whilst some companies have been hesitant to fully jump into an environment that consistently encourages teleworking, GitLab, a web-based DevOps lifecycle software, has embraced a remote-first structure since its founding in 2014. The company attributes a big deal of their success to what they call asynchronous communication.

Saumya Upadhyaya at her work station for GitLab.
Saumya Upadhyaya, employee at GitLab, at her work station.

“For asynchronous communication, which is essential to bridge time zones, it is important that you can write well — that you're concise and precise in your written communication,” explains GitLab co-founder and CEO Sid Sijbrandij.








Instead of continuing to play a game of delay by pushing back their return-to-office dates, online trading platform, Robinhood Markets Inc (HOOD.O), announced in January 2022 that it plans to move a majority of its 3,400 employees to remote work permanently.


"Being able to go primarily remote really means that now we can recruit and attract talent from almost anywhere," said Cynthia Owyoung, vice president of equity, inclusion and belonging at Robinhood.


Moves like these have put the pressure on other larger organizations to listen to their employees who argue their jobs can still be successfully done remotely, even if pandemic circumstances were to change.



Best Practices in Hiring Remotely


Focus on Values


Your organization already has a set of core values to uphold. Entrusting your employees to work from home effectively introduces a completely different set of challenges when finding the right team. For example, is your new hire independent and interested in self-learning? Are they willing to go the extra mile with checking in and documenting the time that they spend on certain projects? Are they able to work autonomously but also be asynchronous? These are all qualities to look for in your potential hires and dig deeper by asking questions and incorporating various skill and personality tests.


Embrace Digital Systems


It is essential for organizations to embrace more digital recruiting tactics when hiring new team members. In fact, LinkedIn users have increased by about 650 million over the past 10 years, which continues to make the platform a leader in the recruiting industry. Additionally, the right applicant tracking system (ATS) can contribute to your recruiting success.


Overcommunicate


The hiring process can also feel very stressful for the candidate during these unprecedented times. Candidates can be left feeling in the dark more than ever before without the assurance of a face-to-face interview process and in-person office culture preview. That is why it is essential to communicate with candidates during every step of the interview process to assure them that the hiring process is continuing with them in mind. After a week of silence, “no news yet” can still be news to the potential hire.


Every employer should aim for a smooth and seamless process while welcoming newcomers. All-remote companies are no exception. Organizations that choose to invest in onboarding are 54% more productive. To have the best remote onboarding experience, Gitlab relies heavily on clear and structured documentation, predicting the needs of new hires, constantly improving the process based on their feedback.


At the female factor a new recruit can expect to be invited to a digital breakfast and have their complete onboarding process divided into tickable to-dos on ClickUp, a task tracking platform. The process is complete with bookmarkable guides, videos and an onboarding buddy for regular check ins and help getting started.


Embrace Flexibility with Employee Needs


While you or your leaders may be itching to get back into the office, that doesn’t mean that every person you are interviewing is in the same boat. Many parents are still forced to play part-time babysitter as their children continue to learn and complete extracurricular activities virtually. It is important to be up front in your expectations via the job description but be open to the flexibility that so many candidates are currently craving. You may be missing out on top talent if you aren’t willing to accommodate the needs of your future employees.



Woman working on her laptop from home.



The New Era of “Polygamous Careers”


In a new age of creativity, apps like TikTok have heightened the fact that generations entering the workforce are not confined to a single interest or set of skills. In fact, the company is launching a new site that will post job listings targeted for Gen-Z job seekers. Instead of résumés, it's anticipated that applicants will submit videos, an unprecedented move that hasn’t been widely explored before.


It is anticipated that the next generation of talent will overwhelmingly opt for this embracement of creativity in what some experts are coming to call “polygamous careers.” The desire to generate income yet also feel fulfilled from multiple projects will increase retention amongst employers. To meet this need, Peter Johnston, a Google alum and founder of the freelancer hub Kalo, launched Polywork. It’s an alternative to LinkedIn which allows its users to build their profiles to incorporate more granular projects such as speaking engagements, app updates, and published work in a more colorful and playful aesthetic.

Incorporating the use of video applications and using alternative platforms for talent scouting is becoming the new way to stay connected and access the best and upcoming talent.


By now, it’s clear that it is extremely difficult to navigate not only the pandemic but the ever-changing needs of the candidates you are hiring. Companies must not only embrace organizational and structural change but also be open to the needs of their employees and potential hires.


The pandemic has caused us to rethink our values for the better and ensure that we are prioritizing not only our career but our own self-care and the care of our loved ones. Our final tip for you is to be strategic, communicative, and open to meeting the needs of your candidates to avoid missing out on the best talent.



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