by Marilyn L. Weber
Technology has allowed us so many advantages in every part of our life, and the office is certainly one of the spaces that we have been able to grow and adapt because of advances in technology. One of the times when this concept is most apparent is looking at the talent pool, and knowing that you aren’t limited to applicants in your immediate and surrounding areas. More and more people today are hiring virtual employees. The range for employees is unlimited – the whole country is the talent pool.
Working with a virtual employee today is easier than ever. We have several in our office, and it’s not any different than the employees at company headquarters except that we don’t physically see them every day. To make things seamless, here are a few of the tips I suggest for hiring virtual employees:
I have our virtual employees work the same hours as the rest of the team in our main office. This concept works within reason of course. Virtual employees that live on the east or west coast can easily adjust their workday by an hour or two so that they are on the same time frame as the home office. This may not be so easy for an employee living abroad in France! However, this allows everyone to be on the same schedule and ensure that team members are available to each other to address any timely requests.
Additionally, if you prefer that your virtual employees work strictly from home (as opposed to their local coffee shop), make it known to them from day one. It’s a very different formula when you aren’t seeing your employees every day, so you want your requests for how they operate made very clear from the start of the relationship to prevent any confusion or resentment later on.
Technology is paramount
Depending on your field and the tools that you need for your specific company, it’s important that the technology you provide your employees with is up-to-date. We provide a laptop, hotspot and network access for our remote team members. Email and phone bridges the distance. You’ll find that employees down the hall and virtual employees across the globe will perform at their optimal level when they have the right tools at their fingertips.
With our video/audio services in the office, we are able to have our virtual employees attend meetings. We can customize our video remote interpreting (VRI) technology to have team members from any location be in our ‘office’ for all needs. By having them be seen and heard, it’s really no different whether they are physically in the room or 1,500 miles away!
Our remote team members come on site for a week or two every other month. Regular in-person checks-ins throughout the year allow you to continue to manage your employees, while also giving them confidence in their job because they’re receiving direct face-to-face contact from their supervisors. The management team also makes regular trips to meet with our virtual employees.
Included in special events
We make sure that our virtual employees are able to attend our end-of-the-year holiday party and any other special office events. We often try to plan our summer employee party or a group happy hour around the time the virtual employees will be in town. I think this is very important so that the virtual employees feel like an essential part of the company, and they get the opportunity to socialize with their colleagues.
Virtual employees are an amazing tool that all companies should consider utilizing. They save money and resources, and allow you to choose from a much wider talent pool for new hires. Plus, allowing virtual employees to be part of your team is a great way to employee disabled or physically limited team members as well. Virtual employees should still be vetted like any other employee. By keeping a few simple tips in mind you can truly expand your horizon and business.
About the author:
Marilyn L. Weber, president and CEO of DIS, is a certified sign language interpreter and has an adult daughter who is deaf. Marilyn has been working for more than 25 years promoting accessible communication, and advocating for the rights of the deaf community. She has interpreted in thousands of professional situations, and conducts deaf awareness workshops, cultural diversity training, and ADA Compliance Consulting. Marilyn has over 2,900 hours of related professional training.
Marilyn has received several awards from various local and national organizations recognizing her work and dedication to the deaf community.