3 Things To Consider Before Hiring A Remote Employee

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I’ve had the opportunity to work at Vanderbloemen as an Intern, a remote part-time employee, and now an in-house, full-time employee. While my roles have remained relatively consistent, the setting has varied quite a bit. I’ve concluded that this makes me the perfect guinea pig for a study on in-house vs. virtual employees.

If you take nothing else from this blog, know that there are pros and cons to both arrangements. For example, through our friends at BELAY, leaders can hire a Virtual Assistant for a few hours a week or full-time, depending on their needs. If you need administrative help for a few hours a week, we definitely recommend you reach out to BELAY. They do a great job of coaching both the leader and the assistant on how to build effective culture virtually. However, a virtual team doesn't work in every context.

Every team is unique and has its own specific needs and solutions. For some, an entirely in-house staff is key to maintaining the team’s culture. For others, the overhead costs of housing an entire team outweigh the benefits of a collaborative workplace. 

If your staff is making a shift toward hiring more remote employees, considering these ideas will help maximize your team’s effectiveness and better serve your church or organization.

1. Distance requires intentional communication. 

This one is a no-brainer... right? If you need to send a message across to the other side of the room, you’re going to need a game plan for how you’re going to get it there. The same goes for employees. If your staff’s only system for communication is email and the occasional meeting, your remote employees will eventually struggle to keep up.

Create a check-in system with your remote employees to provide time to verbally process through any new tasks you’ve given them. In my personal experience, a simple email was not always enough to feel confident that I could complete the task in the best way possible for my team. Scheduling a weekly time to discuss any new tasks, pain points, or goals provided clarity and helped me remain connected to the purpose behind my work, even from a distance.

2. You need to understand your employees’ strengths (and weaknesses). 

Vanderbloemen is a large proponent of personality assessments, and with good reason! Understanding the individual personalities of your coworkers is vital to working together efficiently. This is just as important (if not more) when it comes to a virtual employee. 

We all communicate in different ways. And if we are to follow point #1 above and intentionally communicate with our team members, we must first understand how they operate. For example, if you know your new virtual employee is more detail-oriented, you’ll know better than to send that person a quick text asking for something with little instruction. In this scenario, it would be more effective to put together a detailed email and give the option to call if there are any questions. And conversely, if your virtual employee is more creative, if might be more effective to throw out an idea or text and give some runway for he/she to complete it.

To be clear, understanding the personalities of your staff members is important for both in-house and virtual teams. The need is simply magnified a bit when you add distance to the equation.

3. Casting vision will save your team. 

As a virtual employee, it can be easy to become disconnected from the vision of the organization, especially if most of the team is in-house.

If you are leading someone virtually, vision-casting needs to be a priority.Tweet: If you are leading someone virtually, vision-casting needs to be a priority. http://bit.ly/2yw7fp4 via @VanderbloemenSG

Your staff members need to be reminded why they do what they do, regardless of where in the world they’re working from. If this isn’t a priority on your team, your virtual staff members will quickly lose sight of the purpose behind their work, and may even diminish its quality. Take the time to affirm your team members of the impact that they’re making on the organization and its mission; it could make a huge difference!

As mentioned before, your team may or may not be in the market for virtual employees, and that’s okay. You should first evaluate with your leadership team on whether this is the right step for your organization before making any concrete hiring decisions. 

How has your organization handled virtual employees on staff?