Cover photo credits: WOCinTech Chat
The skills of employees are said to constitute 85% of a company’s assets. So I guess we don’t have to talk about their importance to your team. How you bring them in, train them, and get them to eat, sleep, and breathe your brand spells the difference between success and failure for your organization.
And as Doug Conant puts it,
“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace”.
This signifies the importance of employees to your organization’s success. Treat them well and they’ll do the same for your customers. See them as a second option, and they’ll treat your customers the same way.
But how do you get your employees to work together, have the organization at heart, and strive to build better relationships with customers?
That’s when human resource managers come in. They help recruit, onboard, train, and nurture employees to live the organization’s principles.
In many organizations today, it’s fairly straightforward to hire an HR professional. Among the factors that organizations usually consider include:
- An analytical mind to discern people’s differences and measure performance
- A great communicator to keep people working together
- People skills to help create a great working environment
- Ability to build a systematic HR system for an organization.
These, and many more, inform organizations about the right candidate for an HR manager.
However, these principles have worked in brick and mortar organizations – where employees work from the same office building.
So what happens to companies who operate 100 remote teams? Or have some of their workers working remotely from around the world?
This brings up new challenges for organizations. The principles of yesteryear, regarding hiring an HR manager won’t work for remote companies today.
So how do you decide who is a good HR professional for your remote company?
While there are no hard theories governing this, our experience managing remote teams and building the HR tools for remote companies at RemoteTeam Inc. has given us a lot ideas on what it means to be a remote HR manager and the factors to consider when hiring one for your remote company.
Factors to consider when hiring a remote HR manager or professional for your remote company
An HR guru, but goes beyond conventional thinking
Human resource management, theoretically, would usually remain intact. After all, it’s always about dealing with people in an organization. Therefore, human resource principles may be the same over time. Your first bet as a remote company is to consider an HR manager who knows about the HR industry and has a few years of experience.
However, you shouldn’t rest there. What it means to be “work” has changed drastically over the years. There are remote workers, freelancers, work at home employees, flexible workforce, and digital nomads among others. Therefore, not only should your remote HR manager know about the industry, but they should also go beyond the conventional HR circles.
They should have new perspectives on HR and the future of work. How your remote company fits in. And how they can design and devise strategies to build happy employees who are spread miles away from one another. The conventional thinking that “productivity is always better when the team is together in one office” or “remote workers may be spending their time binging instead of working” aren’t going to take your company anywhere. So you should hire someone who embraces remote work, understands the culture, and is ready to work towards bringing remote employees together for the bigger picture. Your remote HR manager should also be good at international employment compliance practices (remember, you’re a remote team).
Technology is one of the biggest forces advancing the remote work culture. Thanks to technology, communication is easier, we’re able to collaboratively work with our remote teams spread across different continents, and are able to share resources in simple ways never imagined.
However, this isn’t the end of the road. Technology is going to have even bigger impacts on remote work, allowing us to do even more. But your organization’s success will largely depend on how your remote HR manager decides to leverage the technology tools available to them.
When hiring an HR manager for your remote team, always remember to pose questions that will allow a candidate to show their experience in using technology to make HR better. They should also be abreast with the latest technologies in the HR space and how that can be used in your remote company to achieve better results.
Someone who sees technology as a means to an end, not an end itself.
The advancement of remote work heavily relies on technology – the two go together. Communication, collaboration, document sharing, video conferencing, payment, payrolls, expense tracking, and many more require the use of technology. This is good, and something we should champion – better tools for better remote working.
But what we shouldn’t forget is the human element of every organization, be it remote or not. When hiring a remote HR manager for your company, always make sure that they understand the human element, and they should see technology as a tool to help them accomplish their jobs, not as a replacement of their responsibilities.
In her book, Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World, Erica Keswin reminds HR managers that despite the numerous tools in this digital age, they should focus more on human connections and build lasting relationships between employees and the organization.
In essence, slack doesn’t replace how you craft a message. Zoom isn’t a replacement for how you conduct yourself when in a meeting. The tools aren’t replacements – they’re there to offer a helping hand. This is something an HR manager coming to handle a remote team should understand in order to do their job well.
Hire Data-driven HR professionals
Today, human resource management makes use of data and analytics more than ever before. Your next remote HR manager should have an analytical mind to understand the the outcomes of HR decisions such as hiring, onboarding, and training. They should also be able to design and use the right data to measure these metrics and more.
Measuring performance for people in the same office building is usually straightforward: the number of hours they spend in the office and how committed they’re to working instead of chatting with co-workers. In a remote company, productivity measurement is different, and usually not dependent on the number of hours one spends at work. And that is why data-driven hr professionals are important – because in the remote work environment, more data is needed to manage employees.
In his book, Data-Driven HR: How to Use Analytics and Metrics to Drive Performance, Bernard Marr hammers on the importance of data in building an organization’s success and how human resource managers can leverage this for better performance.
This is an important consideration when hiring an HR manager for your remote company. They should understand organizational data and how it can be leveraged to uncover employee decision making, performance, wellbeing, and their day-to-day actions.
Passion for continuous learning
Another very important feature that your next remote HR manager should have is a zeal to learn new things. In the field of remote work, things change faster. Countries are changing their employment laws. New tools for managing employees are released from time to time. New technologies such as artificial intelligence are changing not just human resource, but also remote work.
A good remote HR manager should be someone with keen interest in learning the nuances of what’s happening, what’s changing, and should be able to make sense of their findings in relation to the organization. As a trend that is still growing, learning will be part of work in the remote working space and human resource managers for remote companies should be at the forefront of this revolution.
Communication is key to building any team out there, and an even bigger factor to running a successful remote company. A good remote HR manager should be good at both written and verbal communication. They should also communicate in such a way that each member is given the special needs they deserve – personalized communication.
Employees spread across different geographical areas are always communicating – asking questions on slack, seeking clarifications, collaborating on documents, and more. Good remote HR managers are able to sync these different chats and calls together to personalize each employee’s communication method – be it chat, email, or video.
Listening is part of the communication system, and your next remote hr manager should be a good listener. They should be able to listen to employee pain points and devise means to solve situations on time.
A strategic recruiter and manager
Recruiting people and managing them has never been easy. In the remote work era, where these people are spread across different planets, recruitment and management is even harder. Nevertheless, a good remote HR manager for your remote company should have what it takes to bring in the right people and to help them grow together with the organization.
This is an important factor any virtual team should consider when hiring a remote HR manager. They should show willingness to understand each department’s needs and the calibre of people that would fit in. Remote HR managers should also understand employee needs and provide the appropriate solutions – who needs further training and who doesn’t.
There’s more to this. The future HR manager should be a people’s advocate – always putting themselves in the shoes of employees, standing up for remote employees, and creating an environment where employees feel comfortable to contribute whatever ideas they have to make an organization better. Achieving these goals means that the HR manager would have to wear many hearts – the most important ones being having the skills to work with top-level managers and at the same time, liaise with employees. This would require syncing organizational goals with employee goals to achieve organizational success – something that is highly important in building remote companies.
A diversity and Inclusive Conscious personality
Workplace culture is gradually changing, and has become a big topic now than ever. As a remote company, you usually wouldn’t care about the location of an employee so far as they can accomplish their tasks and are aligned with your organization. That means you will hire people from diverse backgrounds, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, physical disabilities, age, religion, and race among others.
However, you can’t stop at diversity. Just hiring people from different backgrounds or races isn’t the end, especially for remote companies. The people you hire, no matter their status, have to feel that they’re welcome. They have to be treated the same way as anyone else and be given the same opportunity like any other employee.
What this means is that diversity and inclusion should be a big factor to consider when hiring a remote HR manager for your remote company. The HR manager should be well versed in workplace culture, should be someone who accepts the differences of people in society, and should be impartial in dealing with remote employees no matter their location, sex orientation, race or religion.
What next on hiring a remote HR manager?
The field of human resource is changing. It is evolving to meet the needs of the future of work, conform to remote work, freelancing, and digital nomad standards.
Thus, the future would require a different set of human resource managers. Those that understand the remote work landscape, ready to learn and the ins and outs of remote working and how it evolves, and the ability to build lasting relationships between remote employees and that of the organization.
While this is still a field that is developing and would require some time to find the right HR manager for such jobs, the points we’ve provided you can help define your next interview questions when hiring an HR manager for your remote company.
And if you’re aspiring to be a remote HR manager for a company, these are some of the most important things to look out for and to brace yourself for what lies ahead in your career.
About the author
RemoteTeam Inc. is a complete HR tool built for remote companies to easily manage their employees. We’re a group of people who live, eat, and breathe remote and we believe that the future of work will be remote as well. Coming from Africa, Asia, Europe, and America, we’re building the best remote HR tool to help remote companies simplify Payroll, Time Offs, Tax Compliance, Team Management, Document Handling, Productivity management, and more.