Kathryn Barnes, European Counsel, Globalization Partners, argues that as remote work becomes the norm, it is now essential to hire, onboard, and build trusted teams – virtually
As businesses reflect on the operational realities of a post-pandemic world, the emphasis is now shifting from crisis management to recovery planning. Six months from responding to the disruption resulting from the initial impact of COVID-19 and putting in place programmes that will generate long term resilience is now the name of the game. That is especially true when it comes to hunting down the right talent needed to fuel the organisation’s future ambitions.
With remote working well and truly established as the new workplace norm, businesses are having to review and adapt their recruitment and hiring frameworks. This is because the ability to virtually hire, onboard and build trusted teams will be the key to building a highly engaged remote workforce. And, since there is a wealth of skilled talent located around the world, looking beyond borders to accomplish this makes good business sense.
Exploding the myth of post-pandemic deglobalisation
As HR leaders evaluate their workforce strategies, taking advantage of the new rules of engagement where hiring talent is concerned opens up a number of significant new opportunities. That’s especially so when it comes to widening the diversity and cultural outlook of the organisation.
Thanks to the recent global shift to remote working and digital collaboration platforms, it’s never been easier for businesses to cast the net wider and recruit people whose backgrounds and skills will challenge pre-existing approaches or normalised ways of thinking. Companies can now push the innovation agenda ahead, reset organisational performance, and adapt fast to capture new game-changing opportunities.
If anything, the COVID-19 crisis has given new impetus to the idea that we live in a ‘global village’ and should embrace talent wherever it can be found. And, by cultivating remote global teams, organisations will gain valuable new insights into local markets that will help shape and refine go-to-market strategies.
The do’s and don’ts of hiring teams virtually
The ubiquitous availability of video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams means businesses can quickly get the feel of more candidates in a significantly telescoped time frame – there’s less need to meet ‘in person’.
Offering the added dimension of being able to view candidate body language and facial expressions, using video interviews to virtually evaluate candidates based on their initial interactions represents a golden opportunity to determine if they will be a good fit for the organisation and have the experience that is needed for the position.
Ensuring that applicants have a clear idea of the virtual interview process and how many rounds of interviews they should anticipate will be key. Keeping the video conference short and to the point will help focus everyone on the task in hand – ensuring that communication is clear, professional, and on schedule.
From a legal standpoint, being extra thorough with background checks and referencing will be key to protect the organisation from fraud. As will establishing how all confidential material and candidates will be handled.
Thinking carefully about the dynamics of remote teams will also be critical. Given that personnel will be working and collaborating with a high degree of autonomy, everyone will need to have the same mindset when it comes to working in a timely manner. So new recruits will need to be evaluated against the wider make-up of the team. In the absence of in-person interactions, transparent and consistent communication and behaviours will be the key to creating cohesive teams.
The virtual onboarding experience
Introducing new employees to their team members will need to be reframed in the light of the new virtual working realities. The onboarding process represents a critical initial interaction that can make or break how quickly new recruits can start to be productive or feel part of the overall mission.
Regular check-ins to ensure that the formal onboarding process and practicalities are proceeding as planned is a given. But getting new team members settled into the organisation goes beyond just setting them up with an email account. Establishing a remote mentor/buddy they can turn to for help with procedural issues or to share concerns will give them a ‘non-official’ channel they depend upon in those first essential weeks.
Similarly, getting introduced via a group-wide Zoom call to 20 or so people in one go could prove a little intimidating and overwhelming. Instead, get key team members and colleagues to prepare a quick video of who they are and what they do, so new starters can orientate themselves at a time and pace that works for them – rather than suffering rapid information overload.
Building resilience for the long term
Organisations have discovered that the largest workforce experiment ever conducted at scale around the globe is set to become the new normal. Having leveraged innovative technologies to maintain business as usual operations, thoughts should now turn to the long term implications of virtual working when it comes to workforce engagement and performance.
Whether that is addressing challenges like ‘Zoom fatigue’ or protecting virtual employees from a constant battery of notifications, emails and video calls, organisations will need to evaluate and adapt their management approaches. Whether that’s rethinking what productivity looks like, or ways to maintain a sense of personal connection between team members, or being alert to signs of isolation or burn-out.
Supplementing traditional leadership styles with more flexible approaches will be essential for building high performing resilient teams where everyone is included, and no one is ever left behind.