3. The challenges

If you want to start hiring remotely, it takes more than good will and a few job ads. In the past five years since we started hiring for remote roles, there were certain challenges that came up

First, you will get lots of candidates. And I mean lots – we get around 1,500 for each role we advertise on Toggl. Most of them apply because they want to work remotely and not because they’re a great fit for the job. We solve this challenge by using Toggl Hire for screening. Each candidate takes a test and both parties get the results immediately. This way, we weed through most of the unqualified candidates immediately.

Second, you need to overcome your team’s fears – team leads, managers and other team members. If they’ve never worked remotely, they will have concerns about productivity, communication, etc. You can bypass this by transitioning to remote-friendly before going fully remote so that everyone has a sense of what remote work entails. Alternatively, you can show them examples of highly successful remote companies, since there are quite a few.

For example, the team at Invision, one of the biggest remote companies out there, had this same issue. They dealt with their fears by encouraging their employees to join local networking groups and coworking spaces. In this way, they made sure productivity was never suffering.

Third, communication and management issues. As mentioned before, remote employees need to be strong communicators. There are tons of tools for communication and management nowadays, but it boils down to human nature. You need to make sure that you are hiring people who are not just experts at what they do, but who can also communicate well and work independently because these traits are crucial for remote work.

For example, one of the most successful remote companies out there is Automattic, and they state that communication is the oxygen of a distributed company. They state that the lack of communication (or its poor quality) was at the root of every disagreement, conflict and poorly managed project, so they consciously aim to communicate as much as possible.

Fourth, hiring people without meeting them face to face can be a major challenge if you’ve never done it before. This can be a challenge for many reasons, but primarily it’s the danger of making someone into an employee of yours without ever meeting them in person. Initially, it takes a lot of faith, but over time, you build up the confidence to test and screen your candidates and interview them through video calls, to eventually make an offer and hire them

The team at HelpScout solves this problem by having four rounds of video interviews total. The first one is a value-add chat (aligning with company values), the second one is a technical chat (checking for skills and experience) and the third one is a video meeting to discuss logistics such as salary, timeline and benefits. In the fourth video call, the candidate has a talk with the CTO before a decision is made.

Five, you need to define where you’re willing to hire from. There are many considerations to keep in mind – primarily the time zones if you’re hiring remotely. If everyone is in the same (or similar) time zone, meetings and communication, in general, will be much more simple. Moreover, you may want to avoid certain countries because of their high wages. For example, you may not be able to afford to pay a developer in the USA because of the standard wages there.

There are companies such as TimeDoctor which used to rely on countries such as the Philippines, India and Bangladesh, where the costs of living aren’t that high - you can get someone to work for a fairly low monthly wage. However, there is a saying - if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. In other words, make sure to pay a fair salary and you will attract the best candidates instead of deterring them with an offer that is too low.