Remote work is becoming more common. Let’s look at some stats:
- 43 percent of working Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely in 2016, a 4 percent increase from 2012, according to a report from Gallup.
- A similar study from FlexJobs found that almost 4 million Americans — or 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce — work from home at least 50 percent of the time.
- In the 2018 Future Workforce Report from Upwork, 55 percent of hiring managers reported that remote work has become more common compared to just three years ago, and they predicted that 38 percent of their employees will work remotely in the next 10 years.
The trend hasn’t missed the recruiting industry. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of recruiting agencies that permit team members to work remotely at least part of the time. In some cases it’s given as an employee perk; in others, it’s a necessary way to hire and retain the best employees.
But remote work brings its own set of challenges. You may wish to embrace this business trend but also worry about productivity issues. It’s a common concern.
We have five tips to help your recruiters be more productive when they work out of office - whether that’s at home, at a coffee shop, or a client location.
1. Set communication expectations
Hopefully you’ve established a general culture of open communication, for in-office and remote workers alike. But kick that up a notch for remote employees.
Set the expectation that remote employees need to be reachable by phone, chat and email during their normal working hours, and they should be willing to do so (within reason) off the clock, too. If they’re going to be unavailable for a time, they should send an email to let others know. The expectation should be that they will be reachable when they’re working.
It’s also more important that remote workers provide proactive status updates to keep the in-office team in the loop. While out of the office, they are missing out on the hallway meetings and watercooler chatter that often is the best way to keep people updated. Require that daily (at least) status updates be sent to the entire team to keep everyone informed.
Similarly, managers of remote employees need to make sure they are upping their communication and feedback to ensure clarity of priorities across everyone on the team; having a part of the team remote makes this more challenging and more important than ever.
15Five is a very popular app for collecting structured updates and feedback from employees, regardless of what location they are in.
2. Train them in time management
Don’t assume that this is a skill your recruiters have. Teach them to identify their time wasters, turn off electronic distractions, set prioritized goals and defer tasks that can wait.
Maia Heyck-Merlin, author of The Together Leader, suggests having your remote employees use time tracking software (more on that below) for a week and then asking a few questions once you have the data:
- Is how you spend your time aligned with personal and agency priorities?
- What’s preventing you from spending the appropriate amount of time on your priorities?
- Which tasks took more time than you anticipated?
- Which ones took less time than anticipated?
There’s something known as the Pareto Principle (aka the 80/20 Rule), which states that 80 percent of your results come from only 20 percent of your actions. Use this concept to help your remote recruiters prioritize their time against their most important goals. They should be focusing on the 20 percent of activities that produce the most results.
3. Leverage technology
Cloud-based apps are indispensable to remote worker productivity, enabling better communication, organization and accountability. The types of software you should consider include:
- Time tracking apps. As mentioned above, these give you insight into how employees are spending their time. Harvest, Toggl and TopTracker are popular options.
- Chat platforms. Keep your agency’s communications in one place and make it easy for everyone to talk in private or group chats. Slack is arguably the best tool in this bunch, but there’s also Twist, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, among others.
- Video conference solutions. You can’t pop into an open conference room, but you can pop open a quick video chat. Skype for Business, join.me, Zoom and ClickMeeting are all good products. For a quickie mobile solution, check out Marco Polo.
- Project management software. For transparency, coordination and organization, nothing is better than project management software. Everyone gets insight into what everyone is doing and when tasks should be completed. Trello and Asana are two favorites, as is Basecamp.
- Time monitoring apps. You could go so far as to monitor your recruiters’ computers. TimeDoctor monitors all the sites and apps your remote employees spend time on throughout the day; they even have a tool that tracks keyboard and mouse activity, and another that snaps regular screenshots of your recruiters’ screen and sends them to you. HiveDesk has similar features.
4. Set goals and check in on them regularly
Do your recruiters know what is expected of them? Define their goals, including specific objectives and measurable targets. Your remote recruiters should be able to prioritize their workload and the tasks that get them closer to their goals.
It’s up to you, however, to check in regularly and make sure they’re meeting them. While you’re likely staying in touch daily via email and chat, schedule monthly check-ins that look specifically at their targets and how they’re doing reaching them.
Provide your recruiters (in-office and remote) with access to the best recruitment agency software so they can do their jobs efficiently. A solution like TrackerRMS automates routine tasks, freeing up your recruiters to focus on bigger and more profitable tasks.
TrackerRMS also functions as a complete online CRM solution, uniting recruiters and account managers and sharing pipeline insights across teams. And the complete suite of TrackerRMS tools is accessible via mobile, making it perfect for remote employees.
Remote work is more than just a working arrangement
It's a solution that provides for increased productivity, satisfied employees and reduced turnover. Have an agreed-upon process, establish regular times to check in and hold everybody accountable for their work, and it can be a real win-win for your firm.
Looking for more ways to help your recruiters be more productive? Check out our post, “7 Ways to Increase the Productivity of Your Recruiters by 20 Percent or More.”