Remote employees can be a huge asset, providing affordable support in a wide range of circumstances. By keeping costs down without sacrificing quality, companies around the world have been able to redefine the workplace and embrace nontraditional models in new and innovative ways.
Finding the right remote employees can be another story, however. Unlike in-house hires that go through face to face interviews, reference checks, and strict corporate screening processes, the hiring process for contractors is generally very different. When you want to attract the right people, hire only the best, and keep a team of remote workers energized and happy, these tips will help make sure you're heading in the right direction.
Find the Right Fit for Your Company
The world of remote employment is vast, with freelancers offering an extensive variety of skills and experience ranging from students in school to former executives with decades of practice. This can be both good and bad; with the options available, there's a good chance you'll run into as many adept, talented professionals as those who aren't particularly useful but simply like the idea of working from home.
Your team is only as strong as your weakest link, however, which means every position should be filled by the right fit for your company. This can extend to professional certifications, years of experience, education, and more. If an accountant you interview isn't right, keep looking until you find someone who is.
Seek Experience in Working Remotely
The idea of working remotely appeals to many people. Working from home, or in any non-office setting, comes with many benefits that can attract a wide mix of professionals. In order to find a pro who can handle the demands, look for experience not only in financial fields but in contracting as well before adding an accountant or bookkeeper to your team.
Working from home requires a significant amount of dedication and self discipline, and not everyone is able to manage tasks without a boss and a team of coworkers present. A solid track record of remote experiences can be a benefit in finding those serious about employment rather than looking for an easy alternative to a standard 9 to 5 desk job.
Test Skills if Needed
Online, even the best employees are masked by a comfortable veil of anonymity. As such, it can be a little more challenging to determine if a candidate truly has the skills and experience necessary to be an effective employee. Some managers find this out the hard way, investing a team member only to later learn that an assumed skill set is not up to par.
In some cases, administering skills tests can be a good way to ensure remote employees will be able to keep up with client demands. These evaluations can cover a wide range of topics and subject matter, including software skills for programs like QuickBooks Online and Xero, accounting principles, journal entries, financial statement generation and analysis, and more.
Set Expectations Based on Outcomes
In a standard workplace, most employees come in the morning and leave in the evening. Workdays will vary, but even if there's little to do, team members are expected to be present, productive, and ready to work should projects and problems arise.
Remote employees, on the other hand, work a little differently. You can't see them sitting at their desks, getting things done and staying busy, which is why outcome-based tasks rather than time-based jobs are often more beneficial. When you assign an important job that gets completed on time, you'll know your cloud bookkeeper was hard at work, even if you can't be there to see it yourself. As such, most managers don't require a certain number of hours per week but rather a particular set of responsibilities to be finished on a schedule.
Establish Time Tracking
Despite the terminology, remote workers are rarely actually employees; more often than not, they are hourly contractors who do not have a set schedule, tax withholdings, and company benefits. In order to pay appropriately, some form of time tracking is required to monitor how and when employers are working.
Some companies allow contractors to self-report hours, but others choose to hold team members more accountable using time tracking tools. Many time trackers aimed at remote workers are designed to track productivity, monitoring activity levels and taking periodic screenshots to document work practices. When you can see how your accountants are spending their time, your records will be much more accurate.
Keep Communication Channels Open
Working remotely is very different than working in an office. Remote employees don't have access to the resources in-house teams do, providing a disconnect when it comes to seeking support. When you choose cloud accounting versus a regular in-house team, this can often mean a change to traditional communication practices.
Your cloud bookkeepers need to know that the metaphorical door is always open and that you will be there to assist with issues and questions should something arise. Remote employees should also have access to tech support, HR, and other company resources. This communication should include face time as well; using Skype and similar apps for team meetings can bring a home-based employee into the loop.
Working with cloud accounting can be a great way to save both time and money, providing a better alternative for teams on a budget. With these tips, you'll be able to hire and manage remote employees with ease, guaranteeing the right fit for every project on your plate.
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