Lessons Learned from Writing a Remote Work Hiring Guide

Hiring Remote

By: Justine Shu,
Marketing Manager @ WWR

I wrote a 10,000-word guide on hiring remote.

During the writing process, thoughts like, “Oh jeez, here comes yet another remote guide” popped up, but the more I dove into the research and spoke with remote companies, the more I saw how valuable sharing these resources with the remote community is. 

Because nobody exactly has it figured out yet. And arguably, nobody ever will.


Because there really isn’t one template that fits all.

Everyone’s just figuring it out as they go. The best thing employers can do is take the collective’s experience and rhetoric with a grain of salt, mix it with their own values and pump out what works best for them.

I’m behind this notion because it supports the main premise behind remote work: you do you.

Here’s what else I learned from writing this comprehensive guide.

If your company doesn't at least offer work flexibility, it'll be hard for you to remain competitive.

Do a search for anything remote-work related on Twitter and the results will be scattered with potential candidates asking questions like, “Is this opportunity remote-friendly?”. We’re capping 2019 off with more companies believing working remotely is a possibility for positions outside of programming than we did at the start of the year. But before you begin hiring, it’s important to make some major considerations.

The main challenges of hiring remote candidates come as no surprise.

In my conversations with the remote companies we interviewed, the top thee topics that came up were:

Filtering/weeding out applicants
Most companies we spoke with use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) like Greenhouse Software, Workable, Lever, etc., but still aren’t 100% satisfied with the process. Remote companies can definitely benefit from HR technology geared towards remote hiring.

Interviewing and onboarding
What are the best practices for interviewing and onboarding? Most remote companies don’t have their processes down to a science. But remaining fluid and adaptive while documenting your processes will help companies continue to learn from their experiences with ease and grace.

Incorporating DE & I into your hiring process and policy
One may assume that remote work environments automatically include more diversity, equity, and inclusivity because the hiring pool is literally the entire world. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case for many remote companies. Hiring managers and recruiters still need to make an intentional effort by incorporating tactics into their policy and practicing what they preach internally.

Training for remote work is more important than I thought it was.

In all honesty, when I first started working remotely, the idea of getting training on remote work seemed a little silly. But now that I’m further into my role and have faced the common challenges, like communicating and collaborating with a distributed team, I see how beneficial it would be for companies and employees to invest in remote-specific training. Reading a string of articles and books can only take you so far. Being proactive in skilling up with a trained professional before the ball gets dropped is worth the investment in my books.

Hiring for Self-awareness and Emotional EQ is a big focus.

As a naturally introspective and introverted Millenial whose idea of a good time is talking about feelings and philosophizing on life, I love seeing more and more companies promote self-awareness and emotional intelligence as qualities to look for in remote candidates. In a remote environment where asynchronous communication reigns, individuals simply need to possess these qualities in order to get shit done and function as a team.

Onboarding isn’t as good as it could be.

I was and wasn’t surprised to learn that 63% of remote workers who answered our Twitter poll were not satisfied with their onboarding experience. If a company is still developing its culture and practices, it would make sense onboarding would fail to be impactful. But figuring out a company’s culture isn’t a linear process, nor should it be a top-down initiative. Culture happens when a group or collective makes something together - and that takes time.

Making employers comfortable and connected is the company’s responsibility and the best benefit of them all.

During the process of writing this guide, our team hit a bit of a funk - for no reason other than #becauseremotework. Individually and unknowingly to all, we were all facing our own versions of loneliness. Noticing something felt off, our Head of Ops scheduled individual check-in meetings and created a safe space for us to share feedback. That act alone surpassed any benefit I’ve been offered in the past - communal lounge, free beer, ping pong table (ugh), etc. Since then, our team has been able to be more open and upfront with each other. These are the initiatives that help build trust across a team. 

There’s so much wisdom in the field, but more resources need to be shared.

In my research, I noticed there weren’t as many resources available for practical things like best practices for paying remote employees, compliance across the countries, etc. If I had more time, I would’ve incorporated those in our guide. At the same time, when I was interviewing the companies for the guide, everybody who contributed provided amazing wisdom and insight. We’ll be releasing an appendix in the new year featuring all of their full quotes, so stay tuned!

For now, check out these awesome sources:

Thanks for your support on the guide so far

I hope our guide will be used as a tool for companies to improve their hiring processes, setting up a strong foundation so that remote work can continue to flourish and eventually become the norm. The more companies document their work and share it with the remote community, the easier it’ll be for us to work together and tackle the common remote challenges out there.

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