Workplace Culture

How Do We Know if Employees Are Motivated to Work Remotely?

By Staff Report

Nov. 13, 2015

This is a timely concern, especially with movement toward a larger percentage of remote workers across industries. In the case of the high-performing remote employee — and the best way to find that individual — workforce development as much about management as it is about hiring. But first the hiring process:

Initiative and “self-starting” are often referenced as key success factors in a wide variety of positions — especially sales — and with regard to employees not subject to daily, in-person supervision. The difficulty is that most pre-employment assessments (i.e., tests) can’t directly measure initiative. The closest one can get is by looking at personality traits such as work ethic, industriousness, organization and goal setting — often reported as part of an overall conscientiousness factor — and ambition, energy and achievement motivation. These are covered by typical personality assessments.

The best starting point is refining your interview process. Often overlooked is probing deeply into the candidate’s experience (if any) working remotely. Key areas include:

  • Have they ever worked this way, and did they like it?
  • What was their schedule? How did they stick with it?
  • How did they deal with lack of information, disconnect with the home office, and feeling left out?
  • What was their method of planning their day and getting work done?

In assessing level of experience in this way, you may determine if the candidate knows themself and their reactions to telecommuting, and, more importantly, has worked out their own approach to tackling work with no one looking over their shoulder. Self-awareness with regard to working alone is something you’d like the new employee to bring into their role, not an emotional reaction you want them to learn while working for you.

In terms of supervision, employees only perform as well as their managers, so if deadlines are lax, or work does not receive feedback in a timely manner, the newly minted remote employee has less incentive to complete work effectively. In this case, it’s important to utilize specific tools and techniques that are already meant to improve the productivity of traditional employees, but to a greater extent with the remote worker. These include having a detailed schedule, and requiring frequent progress reports on milestones. Emphasize a tracking process and utilize a project manager to focus on completion of daily and weekly milestones, someone who focuses on keeping the work going (so not necessarily a technical expert). With quality assurance, bug-tracking software and systems are often in place, but it’s important to break down deliverables more than one might with an in-person team.

SOURCE: Mark C. Healy, Rocket-Hire, New Orleans, Sept. 9, 2015.


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