An Eight-Step Guide To Finding, Selecting And Managing Remote Staff

by Robin Ann Morris on

The days of face-to-face interviews and working in a cubicle from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. are slowly fading away. In its place, companies are hiring geographically dispersed employees.

We have found that having a remote staff works best for us. In the Process of hiring,  we’ve created a guide based on our experience working with remote transcriptionists. Read on to see if this remote worker setup is right for you and your business.

Identifying Talent

Identifying a remote independent contractor can be especially tricky, and you’ll face different challenges than you normally would with a face-to-face hire.

The first thing to keep in mind is that selecting remote workers is a job in and of itself, and you should treat it as such.

These days, it isn’t uncommon for companies or small businesses to utilize sites like UpWork or Freelancer. You can start off with people doing contract work at part-time hours. Think of this as a way to test the waters before diving in completely.

To make this process go smoothly, train one of your in-house team members to work on continually developing your process. We have developed our process of hiring remote transcriptionists over the last six-and-a-half years. Our work has paid off and we now have a far smoother workflow.

Like anyone else, you’ll want to screen a remote candidate before conducting an interview. In addition to reviewing their resume and cover letter, you can screen them through a series of tests. We’ve developed a test for different kinds of transcription work to weed out anyone who overstates their expertise or outright lies about their experience.

If you choose to move forward with this person, there is no need to fly them in for an interview. Today’s technologies make it easy to speak to people all over the world. Chat with them on the phone or, better yet, through video conferencing applications like Skype or Zoom. Interviewing on a video conference puts a face to a name without the pressure of an in-person interview.

Training

When working with remote staff, you have to slightly alter the way you go about training them. We’ve found the best way to train a transcriptionist is to send them articles or learning modules that they can practice at their own pace.

Depending on whether we are hiring someone to do legal transcription or financial transcription, we use training software. This way, our remote transcriptionists can see step-by-step instructions right in front of them. It is also a great way to help new staff members see the software and processes they’re expected to replicate in action. Most importantly, set up a time to follow up with team members and answer any questions they may have.

Managing

The key to managing remote workers is to establish open communication channels. Create a timeline on how quickly they need to respond to emails. Also, have a day where check-in calls happen or organize a weekly video conference call.

Organizational tools are key when trying to keep all team members on the same page. Free apps like Asana or Trello are great for assigning tasks. We’ve found that these online tools eliminate a number of emails and double transcriptions. This is a great way for remote team members to feel in the loop and involved in your business.

Including Team Members

Sometimes, a remote worker can feel lonely or overlooked because they are at home alone behind a screen 99% of the time. Make sure you let them know how valuable they are to the team.

Set up a group on Facebook and use messaging apps like Slack or HipChat for workers to connect with one another. Don’t forget to have fun, too: Office workers crack jokes at the water cooler, and so should you on messaging apps. Use emojis or GIFs in an appropriate manner to include remote workers in the office fun.

Tracking Productivity

One of the biggest concerns business owners have about choosing the remote worker path is making sure they are actually working. It’s not like you can pop over to their desk and make sure they aren’t playing computer games all day.

So how can you be sure that your money isn’t going to waste? Well, there’s an app for that — several, in fact. Like the communication and organizational tools, there are apps that can help you make sure your remote workers are working and making progress on projects. Our team uses Hubstaff, for instance, but at the end of the day, it often comes down to trusting that you’ve hired a motivated self-starter.

Breaking Up

In-person terminations are not always feasible with a remote worker. So how do you let them know that their time with you is up?

You could send them an email — the least desirable option, as it can seem impersonal and disrespectful. But your best bet is to terminate someone via video conferencing or over the phone. Video conferencing allows you to convey information with empathy. It also gives the worker a chance to ask questions or share their thoughts openly on the matter.

Make sure to follow up with any paperwork or paychecks. To be on the safe side, speak with your IT department about shutting down accounts, changing passwords and anything else that you may have provided them.

Building A Successful Virtual Team

If you’re like us and decide to go down the route of selecting a remote worker, know that it takes a substantial amount of time and energy. The success of your growing company depends on finding the right talent that fits the bill. All you have to do is keep your workers — remote and in-house — motivated and accountable to meet your business goals.

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Written by: Robin Ann Morris

Founder & CEO at MaryJane Agency, LLC

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