Let everyone work remotely! Sounds cool, but remote hiring is a reality fraught with complexities.
Sure, remote work opportunities are a great recruitment strategy today. But HR professionals can’t flip a switch to make traditional hiring strategies work for remote hiring.
“The world is going remote. The world is going flexible. You’re trying to attract and retain the best employees,” says Adrienne Jack, Vice President of Legal Product at SixFifty. “Companies are realizing that the best employees aren’t always living within drivable distance of their offices. The employees are scattered across the country and across the globe.
“Having this flexibility to hire anywhere really opens the talent pool for companies and allows them to find the people regardless of where they’re located,” says Jack.
While a scattered workforce can help advance companies, it also introduces a myriad of new rules and legalities for HR professionals.
And the landscape continues to change: Almost 60% of employees prefer a hybrid work model, and a third prefer exclusively remote, according to a Gallup study. Nearly 55% of companies that can offer hybrid and/or remote capabilities will do it going beyond 2022, the survey revealed.
So you’ll likely need to perfect remote hiring. To help, here are five issues HR pros will want to consider and/or act on when hiring employees who will work remotely or hybrid.
Crossing state lines
Recruiting and hiring remote employees will likely be different as early as your evaluation process. Some states limit the criteria you use to evaluate job candidates and how – or if – you can ask about those subjects. Some parameters that are handled differently from state to state include:
- criminal history inquiries
- credit report requests
- background checks, and
- drug tests
One example: Many states have laws that limit how or if companies can request or consider candidates’ criminal history. But in particular, New York state employers can’t ask about or act adversely about a potential candidate’s charges or arrests that didn’t result in a conviction.
So you’ll want to get familiar with the hiring laws in the states where you’ll interview candidates before you start the process.
Communicating with applicants
It’s always important to communicate early, often and clearly with job candidates. But when you’re hiring for remote positions, it’s critical to winning the high level of talent you’d hope to get by creating the opportunity.
Set expectations early in the recruiting process for how and in what frequency you intend to communicate. Same goes for candidates: Let them know the best channels to communicate with you or recruiting specialists and how frequently they’ll need to do it.
Other communication considerations:
- Meeting norms. Do you want cameras on or off? Will you record interviews?
- Response times. Give maximum wait times for response times in all the channels you’ll use to communicate throughout the hiring process – from chat to email to phone calls.
- Connections. Give candidates a full view of how teams get and stay connected when one or all work remotely. You’ll want them to understand the different communication methods, culture, expectations and security for handling the technology as relationships evolve.
Adhering to the state lines
Remote workers will likely bring up the same HR issues as on-site or local employees. But how they’re governed might be different.
Employment laws can differ from state to state. Pay rules can vary from municipality to municipality and, most certainly, from country to country. Just keeping up with the differences could be a job in itself!
But keep in mind this rule of thumb: “The law that applies will most likely be the law of the jurisdiction of where the person is working,” says Marie Kulbeth, Co-Founder and General Counsel of SixFifty in the webinar Legal Complexities of Fully Remote Workforces.
Still, there are exceptions. Kulbeth explained a recent one: A remote employee in Boston filed a discrimination suit in Massachusetts against her New York employer. A judge first had to rule which state would have jurisdiction over the case. That was before it could even be heard. In this case, the judge ruled it should be New York because the impact of the allegations – and eventual ruling – were greater there than in Massachusetts.
Updating policies, handbooks
A remote, dispersed workforce will likely call for updated workplace policies and handbooks that define and maintain those. We won’t kid you: This probably won’t be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done! After all, laws and guidelines that govern payroll, contracts, work conditions and other legalities differ from state to state.
You might consider building and/or maintaining these types of handbooks to cover the bases:
- Universal. Nearly every company will want this one. It’s meant to govern all employees and likely includes your most general and overriding rules and expectations – from the mission and values to company-wide holidays.
- Operational. This handbook can cover workflows, chains of command, communication channels and anything that will help a dispersed workforce understand and adhere to operational expectations. When employees work across time zones and international borders, this can help set the tone for “internal” communication, work cadences and project priorities.
- State-specific. For every state your remote employees work from, you might need separate state-specific policies. Some situations call for it. For instance, most states have different jury duty leave policies – and you’ll need to adhere to each. Many states have also been changing parental leave and accessibility laws and guidelines.
Defining the limits
Remote and hybrid work don’t necessarily mean flexible work. They’re often intertwined, but they aren’t interchangeable. Yet, some companies and remote or hybrid candidates don’t define the parameters of the work.
So you’ll want to work with hiring managers – and possibly their teams – to define flexible, hybrid and remote guidelines and expectations. Then, in writing, make those clear.
Flexible work usually involves flexible start and finish times and days, split shifts or non-traditional working weeks. Hybrid is usually a pre-determined split between working on-site and working from a remote location. Remote is almost always fully working from a remote location.
So, if the role demands it, define days, hours and expectations. If there’s flexibility, define the limits on that, as well, and have new hybrid and remote employees agree to the terms.