The Unique Challenges of Hiring Remote Team Members

Adding new members to your organization is an exciting but challenging task. The influx of new talent, personality and values can be just what your company needs. But anytime you bring people together, there is always risk.

However, when dealing with remote team members, there is a unique set of challenges you must overcome. And the best way to get through this period of transition is to be realistic about what you’re up against so that you can proactively mitigate any problems that may arise.

And with remote work becoming increasingly popular in today’s workplaces, it’s important you be prepared to properly manage this style of getting things done.

Language and Culture Barriers

One of the benefits of adding remote team members to your organization is that you can access a global talent pool. When you’re no longer bound to a specific geographic location, you can recruit talent from all over the world for much less money.

However, when you begin to expand your search to all of Planet Earth, you’re going to run into some issues, the most poignant being language and cultural barriers. Obviously, if you’re hiring writers, then a language issue is a sign you may not be going after the right person. But web developers, IT techs, accountants, payroll managers, and so-on do not need to have English as their first language to do their jobs well.

To prevent any issues, just work to be as clear as you can. Avoid using any colloquial terms people from other parts of the world may not know, and give more detailed instructions than you normally might. This will help you navigate language barriers, but it will also help you avoid someone doing the wrong thing because they didn’t know some of your company’s unwritten rules.

After a while, you’ll develop a relationship with people and it will be easier to tell when you’re not on the same page. But in the beginning, take things slow to prevent any issues before they become too serious.

Different Laws and Regulations

A very real challenge that results from hiring remote team members is compliance. Depending on where your company is located, and where your employees are located, there may be different rules and regulations you need to follow.

Typically, the best way to work around this is to engage with remote workers as independent contractors. In this scenario, you pay them for their services, and then it’s up to them to make sure they have all their tax and employment paperwork in order.

However, this isn’t always possible. Perhaps you need to ensure continuity in a role or maybe you’ve found a real all-star you want to bring on as a full-time employee. When this is the case, then the best thing to do is to take advice from a professional human resources firm. They will help make sure you are following all the necessary rules and regulations and avoid costly and damaging penalties and fines. You could bring in experts of your own, but outsourcing will almost always be cheaper, especially for smaller businesses. 

Potentially Lower Engagement

One of the risks involved with hiring remote team members is decreased engagement. Less frequent communication and the overall disconnect that comes from being out of the office can cause remote workers to tune out more easily, which makes them less dedicated and less productive.

However, this does not need to be the case. If you work hard to keep people included in happenings around the office, then you may find remote workers will become more engaged. This is because remote working arrangements allow people to organize their lives better, increasing their attention on the task at hand and making them more dedicated to doing a good job.

Setting up regular team meetings, establishing clear, open lines of communication (using platforms such as Slack, for example), taking the time to build a relationship with remote workers by showing an interest in their personal lives, and using a hands-off management approach will all help remote workers feel more valued and integral to the team. And when this happens, you can count on improved engagement and higher productivity levels, no matter where people are located.

More Difficult Collaboration

Getting people in a room with a whiteboard is still the best way to encourage collaboration. So when you begin hiring remote team members, be ready to take a different approach so that you can still foster collaboration amongst your team members.

The best way to do this is to invest in the right technology. We already mentioned Slack as a great communication tool, but consider working with Zoom and Trello, too. Zoom allows you to hold virtual meetings. It has a message board to go along with audio and video components, making it easier for people to communicate with one another and exchange ideas. Trello is great because it makes it easier for you to keep track of your different projects and organize what needs to be done moving forward.

Other popular options include Asana, Ryver and Podio. All three allow you to quickly and easily communicate with teams and share tasks, making it easier than ever to collaborate over the internet. Sure, it won’t ever match what you can get face-to-face, but these programs get you pretty close.

Stay Flexible and Adapt

Adding remote workers to your team can help you take your company to the next level. Not only does it allow you to offer a highly-desired perk to employees, but it also gives you the chance to tap into a global talent pool. However, hiring remote workers presents some challenges. Be aware of them and be ready to stay flexible and adapt, as this will help ensure success as you embark on this new part of your company’s journey.

About the Author: Jock is a successful entrepreneur and founder of his own business brokerage. He enjoys sharing this experience by contributing to blogs and other online forums dedicated to helping business owners and leaders succeed. He has always worked remote and leads an entirely remote workforce. It has its challenges but he knows it’s also a great option for businesses looking for flexibility and an engaged team.