Hiring someone who works from home – 5 tips to get it right

By July 15, 2011 Hiring & Recruiting

Ain’t it great to be Canadian? A new study out of the U.S. last week looks at how our neighbours south of the border are catching on to the Work From Home movement. It seems, according to the report by the Telework Research Network, that employers in the U.S. are still resistant to the idea of having employees work from home.

The biggest roadblock? Management doesn’t trust that employees at home are actually working.

And yet, almost 80% of employees surveyed would work from home if they could—and more than a third would take a pay cut to do so.

That explains why 82 of the top 100 companies on Forbes’ list of best companies to work for allow their employees to work from home at least 20 percent of the time. It also explains why you may soon find yourself hiring an employee for a flexible position in your company.

The benefits for an employer (as discussed in this Workopolis article) include increased productivity, greater employee retention, and access to some highly qualified candidates. In fact, just this week a study out of the UK found that people working from home increase their productivity by 20%. Almost half of employers in the UK (46%) now offer the option of working from home to staff.

Canadian employers are starting to realize the bargaining power of a flexible work environment when recruiting candidates.  Finding the right candidates to fill these rolls, however, falls into the hands of HR or a hiring manager.

If you are hiring someone who may be working from home, what are some important qualities? An article on the recruitment network discussed recent research that identified key traits to look for when hiring for a flexible position.

Here are five things to look for:

  1. A self-starter: An employee working from home doesn’t have a manager to keep his or work in check. An engaged employee is more likely to self-motivate and put the effort into his or her assigned tasks.
  2. A team player: Think that hardworking, glued-to-the-desk dedicated introvert is the best idea for an employee working from home? Think again. Being removed from the daily interactions means that workers must make the extra effort to communicate their progress, problems and goals with other members of the team. A person working at home must prioritize shared responsibilities.
  3. Communication skills: An employee away from the day-to-day office routine must be a highly effective communicator. Effective, to-the-point communications make life easier without the face time. (Think concise bullet point emails vs. long-winded four paragraph rants.)
  4.  Freelance contracts: A lot of today’s contract or freelance work is done outside of an office setting, and not every job is always listed on a resume.  Ask about past freelance gigs that can prove a candidate has the chops.
  5. Technical skills: Working from home, even some of the time, requires a certain grasp of the technology required. There is no IT support in the living room, so a certain level of comfort with technology is preferable.

The reality of the modern workforce is that much of today’s work can be done from a computer—whether at home or in the office. As a hiring manager, an important shift in the future will be identifying candidates that make telecommuting a success.

See also:
How to make work-from-home work for your biz
How to improve your staff’s work-life balance

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