5 Pitfalls to Watch Out for When Hiring Your Virtual Team

You’ve decided to add another web worker to your team to speed up a project or provide key skills. Great! Now all you have to do is find and hire the perfect candidate for the job, but hiring remote workers presents some unique challenges compared to hiring office-based staff.

As you proceed, be mindful of these potential pitfalls to make the process as painless as possible:

  1. Not minding the legalities. Is the person you’re hiring a contractor or an employee? Both options have advantages, but you need to weigh the pros and cons and then consult a lawyer to make sure you’ve got your legal Ts crossed and Is dotted.
  2. Not hiring for “soft skills. Working as part of a virtual team presents emotional and communication challenges that being the best copywriter or software developer can’t help with. Soft skills like tact and emotional control enable web workers to coordinate and share feedback with co-workers without ruffling feathers. And, of course, without self-discipline, motivation and problem solving skills, no worker, no matter how technically gifted, can get the job done. Consider if your candidates have not just the skills but also the temperament to cut it as part of your team.
  3. Not working your network. Obviously, you know more people in your home base than you do in the many locations great web workers could be lurking, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use every tool at your disposal to locate talented candidates. Update your LinkedIn status telling everyone what you’re looking for, and email your contacts across the country. You should be engaging your network the same way you would be if you were looking for local talent.
  4. Hiring when you needed a new worker yesterday. Finding the right person to join your virtual team takes time. Don’t leave your search to the last minute when deadlines are looming and end up not having enough time to search broadly and evaluate candidates thoroughly.
  5. Being fuzzy about how things will work. Communication is key to successful remote teams, so start off with the clearest possible understanding of logistics, the role and your expectations. When Zach Rose, CEO of Green Education Services, set out to hire remote workers, he “created a 40-page document that lays out everything from our maternity leave policy to our non-discrimination policy. If one of my instructors is unsure if he or she should be taking cabs or the bus in any given city, the handbook explains company protocol.”

What other pitfalls should managers hiring web workers look out for?

Photo courtesy Flickr user Alaskan Dude

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