Best Practices for Hiring in a Remote Workforce

The foundation of any organization is its people. For any business to succeed and grow, it has to optimize the talent from existing employees and find the right new hires to complement that team. Human resources teams accept this challenge but are faced with a daunting new one: effectively hiring employees in a remote landscape.

In a virtual panel, I sat down with Caitlyn Metteer, Lead Recruiter at Lever to discuss some of the key challenges and opportunities for HR teams who are hiring employees in a remote work environment and best practices for thinking ahead. 

The two primary challenges we identified for HR professionals as teams shifted to remote work were:

  • A remote recruiting process: The interview process has become reliant on video conferencing software. While video conferencing is an invaluable solution, it leaves something to be desired when it comes to the recruitment process. Without in-person interactions, establishing a level of comfort in candidates is more important than ever. Some of the other challenges in remote recruitment lie in the inevitable tech issues and other glitches that occur.
  • Onboarding new employees: New candidates continue to be onboarded despite the shift to remote work. Unfortunately, new hires aren’t experiencing normal levels of face-to-face interaction they'd get when joining a new company. The aspects of onboarding that would typically take place in the same room are accomplished remotely. HR teams need to ensure a smooth onboarding process and adequate support for new team members.

Organizations are also seeing more challenges in security and productivity. As on-site employees became remote, IT departments scrambled to secure networks and devices. Data breaches and security threats surged at the height of the pandemic. These new threats forced IT departments to adapt quickly to secure their data, while setting employees up to be productive. Collaboration with the IT department has become vital to ensure employees have the tools and devices to get their job done efficiently.

The new candidate experience

Procedures for new candidates must be adapted to the current situation. Candidates are now taking part in entirely remote interview processes. New recruiting methods require flexibility, patience, and understanding from both the candidate and the employer. How well organizations adapt to the new candidate process will impact their ability to grow and retain their remote workforces.

During our fireside chat, we discussed the following ways to provide an exceptional candidate experience in a shifting recruitment environment: 

  • Increase transparency: Teams need a new level of transparency within the interview process. Uncertainty can cause candidates to feel more anxious, which can affect their interview skills. Be upfront about timelines and update candidates on where you are in the search process, as well as when they can expect to hear back from you.
  • Set clear expectations: Many people are home with kids, partners, dogs, and other interruptions. Let candidates know that you understand their situation and can empathize. Letting candidates know that everyone is in the same boat can ease their minds.
  • Be flexible about scheduling: Teams need to put appropriate amounts of space between interviews. Don't try to fit everything into one day. Working from home has changed people's schedules, and they most likely will require more flexibility during the interview process. 
  • Throw out the rule book: We've never experienced a time exactly like this before, so it's okay not to know what to do. No company has the perfect answer for how to scale during a global pandemic. Layoffs have many candidates feeling nervous about leaving secure positions in search of something new. Keep all of this in mind and use it to inform your recruiting practices.

Adapting new hire onboarding practices

Onboarding is an important yet undervalued aspect of employee retention. The employee onboarding experience can play a role in their first impression and ultimately their longevity. It will also impact how quickly they can get ramped up to become a productive team member within your organization. 

The following tips can help you create a more seamless onboarding process for new hires:

  • Create learning and development teams: Appoint team members who will be responsible for answering questions and providing further hire support. Designating team members to provide onboarding support can ensure that new hires have everything they need to be successful. Onboarding resources are always a worthwhile investment.
  • Virtualize onboarding: Creating a virtual onboarding process involves making every in-person interaction digital. Companies should strive to create a genuine "new employee" feeling even though communications can't take place in person. This will take proactive planning - HR teams must take an inventory of their new hire process and find ways to provide digital equivalents.
  • Strengthen the HR/IT relationship: HR teams and IT departments must work more collaboratively now than ever. These departments must work together to provide a digital experience for the recruiting and onboarding process. Using collaborative software and increasing their level of communication can create a synergistic relationship that benefits new hires. 
  • Implement new technology: One of the most common things being echoed in the HR space right now is that new technology was on their "to-do list" before the pandemic forced them to use it finally. Now is a great time to overhaul manual processes and implement technology platforms and tools. HR software must be user-friendly and have self-service onboarding features. New hires should be able to fill out forms and receive the necessary information easily. Streamlining these processes will come in handy even for companies who will eventually migrate back to a more traditional office setting.

Watch the full conversation in our on-demand webinar Best Practices for Hiring in a Remote Workforce and learn how the Docusign Agreement Cloud for HR can help teams adapt to new challenges in remote work

Nic Jagoe
VP Talent Acquisition
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