Expanding Your Team as a Remote Small Business Owner

It’s projected that over 36 million Americans will work remotely by 2025. If your business operates remotely, your considerations and processes for talent acquisition often look (or need to look) significantly different than conventional hiring practice. Chances are good that you’ve already experienced the complications that hiring remotely can create. Improving your strategies for talent acquisition and tailoring them for your remote team can go a long way in making your hiring process more effective.

Expanding Your Virtual Team

A number of strategies can help you shape your recruitment process and help you improve its results for both you and prospective talent.

Create Culture

Build now for the addition of team members down the road. It is never too early to invest energy in cultivating your business team culture and ethos. Whether you currently have 1, 10, or 50 employees, good team culture is imperative to your company’s long-term success and its importance will skyrocket as your team grows.

What daily, weekly, or monthly rhythms does your team currently utilize? How could those be developed or enhanced? What does your leadership style look like, especially within a virtual context? How does it both serve and hinder your team? What is the quality of the communication amongst your team right now? If any of these elements have thus far been unassessed or are less than stellar, invest time and energy into creating or improving them.

Without physical proximity, a common workplace, and any other amenities of a more traditional team environment, it takes intentionality and creativity to build a strong team dynamic amongst remote team members. Investing in a strong, defined culture now not only helps your current team’s performance but will go a long way in attracting the best talent when you need to hire.

Know Their Why’s and How’s

When hiring for remote positions, determine why the candidates you speak to want to work from home. Hearing a candidate express their motivation for working remotely will help you gauge how good a fit they might be for your team and raise any red flags before you extend them an offer.

Similarly, it’s important to know beforehand what skills and traits a successful team member needs to fit well in your organization before you begin recruiting. Small companies operate differently than large corporations do. Richer team dynamics, shortened lag time for completing projects, or more quickly implementing institutional change like harnessing big data or tech stack switches can create distinct cultures and work environments in smaller organizations.

Of course, small companies present unique challenges too. They can often include more informal responsibility structures, roles that require team members to wear many hats, and the need to maintain good working relationships with a wider breadth of professionals (as opposed to operating within a division of like-minded people). Know what skills are necessary to thrive in your unique business environment, and make sure you articulate and assess those traits during the hiring process. Understand your company’s nature and hire for it.

Take Care of the Details

Virtual hiring processes can leave a lot to be desired. If not planned well, they can leave negative impressions of you and your company or cause top talent to look elsewhere. Obviously, virtual interviews and other elements of the process are highly dependent on technology. So invest in good technology. A shoddy interview cut off by a free Zoom account time limit hardly communicates serious professionalism.

Communicating about the small things beforehand also goes a long way in making the interview process more seamless and enjoyable for everyone. In arranging a virtual interview, confirm that you’ll be calling the applicant. Let them know who might also be on the call. Confirm whether you’ll have your video on for the interview. Prepare them beforehand if they should have access to paper and pen, their resume available, or be ready for an assessment of some kind. Schedule debrief sessions in advance with other employees involved in the hiring process to make sure you can connect and get their input. The attention you give to preparation and communication can significantly improve the recruitment experience for all involved.

Pitfalls to Avoid

When crafting your remote hiring process, it’s just as important to be aware of things that will hinder your results.

Don’t Pretend

Making your hiring process a carbon copy of someone else’s, or that of an in-person company, is a huge mistake. You’re not those companies. Don’t try to be. This can be unhelpful for both you and new hires. If you put on a show during the hiring process that is different from how your company operates in normal time, you won’t land a good fit and will probably end up back in the recruitment process much sooner than you’d prefer. You should expect potential employees to negotiate, and don’t pretend their input doesn’t matter. They should be able to explain why deserve a specific salary, and you can make a decision from there.

Don’t Leave Out the Right Voices

It’s important not to hire in a vacuum. For any new position, who else needs to be a part of the conversation? Unless you will be managing the new hire directly, it’s imperative to have those who will be managing or working with the new hire involved in the decision process.

Likewise, whenever possible, create ways for your team to interact with prospective hires during the consideration process. This can provide huge insights for you, the candidate, and the team at large. If it’s feasible, virtual open houses or team calls can provide valuable experiences for both you and the candidate that can help indicate long-term fit. It can also help you and your team better identify the “ideal candidate” vibe. Impressive talents on paper that perform well in a one-on-one interview won’t always mesh well with the team. This can create difficulties down the road.

Don’t Forget to Onboard

The hiring process ends when you’ve sent out an offer letter, right? No. Do not skimp on your onboarding sequence. This could arguably be the most important part of adding members to your team. The onboarding period is critical. It introduces new employees to the team and to their role, helps them learn expectations and company culture, and lays groundwork for good relationships and communication channels with their teammates. Onboarding isn’t optional. If you don’t have a plan in place, “onboarding” will still happen but will comprise whatever assumptions and experiences the new hire ends up absorbing in their first days and weeks on the job. This may or may not be a good foundation for a long, healthy tenure in your organization.

The hiring process deserves intentionality in any industry or business. When you hire into a remote team, the stakes are higher and the need more imperative for making sure your hiring funnel is well-crafted. Investing time in making your hiring process solid can pay dividends down the road in the form of strong fits and better retention for your business.