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4 Attributes To Look For When Hiring Remote Workers

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While adoption rates vary by country, industry and company size, the remote working trend continues to gather momentum as more employees demand flexible working arrangements, and many organizations recognize the potential benefits, such as increased productivity, reduced overhead costs, and access to a larger talent pool.

At the same time, we’ve seen high-profile companies like Apple, Amazon, OpenAI, Google, Microsoft, Meta, Starbucks, Disney and Goldman Sachs, among others, rolling back fully remote workplace policies.

Leaders at these companies are mandating that staff hired for office work return to the office, citing reduced productivity and organizational efficiency, and stifled innovation and creativity as primary reasons for their decision.

This shift to hybrid workplace policies and stricter return-to-office mandates underscores the importance of hiring the right-fit employees suited to thrive in a remote environment to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the model.

Related: A New Remote Work Trend is Helping Employers Retain Talent Amid Labor Market Pressures

Our fully remote business has navigated a period of exponential growth in the number of passionate people we employ from countries across the globe. During this time, we have identified four key qualities and attributes that we look for to ensure we hire staff who thrive in the remote work environment.

1. Confidence to take initiative

Siloed and structured roles and responsibilities characterize the traditional corporate environment, which suits certain personality types and mindsets.

But the fully remote organization requires employees who thrive with unconstrained mandates. They also need the confidence, creativity and innovation mindset to deliver value beyond their basic job role and meet the company’s strategic objectives.

Identifying and hiring talented individuals who want to break free from a complex and toxic corporate environment for better work-life balance and personal and mental well-being are ideal candidates. These individuals typically thrive with the new-found freedom to work how, when and where they want, which can produce innovative and beneficial outcomes for the organization.

For example, a newly recruited Country Manager of ours took the initiative to grow the regional business by developing completely new processes and procedures from scratch, despite not having any experience with this management aspect. His proactive efforts successfully built the business in his region and were replicated in other key regions to grow the business.

Related: How to Identify and Nurture the Leadership Potential of Your Employees

2. A growth mindset

Career pathways in conventional company structures are typically rigid, linear and predictable. In contrast, fully remote companies’ potential for growth and development is less constrained.

As such, when fully remote companies identify and hire employees who see beyond the corporate ladder and create opportunities for professional and personal development within and beyond their conventional job role, remote companies can develop and nurture talented individuals who contribute immeasurably to the company’s success.

This was demonstrated when we hired someone who previously worked as an import-export specialist to fulfill a Customer Support Lead role. He leveraged his flexible, fully remote working environment to study User Experience (UX) courses to expand his knowledge. After completing his UX design studies, he completely transformed his career path and now works as a UX Researcher and Designer, creating new experiences and solutions that make customer lives easier, which offers the business a competitive advantage.

Related: How to Instill and Foster a Growth Mindset in Your Employees

3. Cross-functional capabilities

While cross-functional teams have become commonplace in conventional organizational structures to drive innovation, every fully remote company needs cross-functional employees.

Small companies can benefit immensely from building broad expertise and a more diverse skill set among staff by creating opportunities to work collaboratively with other people in the business. These experiences help employees learn about different systems and develop new skills across different roles within the business.

This experience can help employees develop cross-functional capabilities and grow in unconventional ways to potentially fulfill multiple roles within the business or evolve into hybrid roles that offer more value to the organization by fulfilling multiple functions or providing support across teams.

These cross-functional employees, with their multifaceted capabilities, can help the business grow without unnecessarily increasing headcount or costs to the company, which can accelerate company growth and fast-track success.

4. Passion and purpose

There are clear links between employee retention and productivity when staff find purpose in their work and are afforded opportunities to pursue their passions.

The virtual working environment offered by fully remote businesses allows individuals to pursue their purpose by securing work in their preferred field — no matter where they are in the world — with the flexibility to pursue their passions, even if those projects or pursuits fall outside their daily job role. The most common example cited among fully remote employees is the ability to travel while continuing to work and earn an income.

When passion and purpose intersect within a job role or the organization, it typically creates the most fulfilling form of work and attracts the most committed employees.

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