A virtual employee is someone who works for an organization as a paid and taxed employee. They often have full benefits and other perks and will be considered a W-2 employee for tax purposes. These employees are not to be confused with remote independent contractors, who are hired on a 1099 independent basis.
Today’s companies are engaging the idea of remote teams and virtual employees more than ever. In light of the public health crisis, many companies had no choice but to go remote. Now that we’ve proven that it can be done, some companies will never go back.
And, like everything, the process of hiring and managing virtual employees is much different than in the physical workplace. Keep reading to learn more about these valuable assets to your organization and how you can capitalize on their talent, onboard seamlessly, and manage them effectively.
What is a virtual employee?
As the name alludes, a virtual employee is someone who works remotely, as opposed to being present in a physical, centrally-located office or workspace. Most virtual employees work from the comfort of their homes. Others may work out of their local coffee shop or even rent a private office space.
Regardless, if they’re not working in the building, they’re considered virtual, or remote.
However, it can still be challenging to find your fit because you want to make sure that you’re hiring and managing quality employees. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to assist you along the way.
What can virtual employees bring to your business?
While virtual employees bring similar job skills as traditional candidates and in-person hires, they also offer several benefits that make them a strong choice for many organizations. Here are some of the highlights of remote employees:
- Going remote allows companies to find the best candidates, regardless of location
- Remote work is a cost-effective solution that saves office space and other overhead costs
- Gaining access to better candidates and a quicker, more efficient hiring process helps build your business faster
You’re gaining access to the best talent, saving money on recruitment, operations, and employee management, and giving your organization the chance to grow faster and work better than ever before. It’s no surprise virtual hiring is being embraced by companies large and small.
How do you hire virtual employees?
Hiring virtual employees isn’t significantly different than traditional hiring. You need to determine the needs of your business and determine which roles you will be hiring for based on the gaps you find. This will allow you to create a hotlist of desired skills for your recruiting needs. It also makes it easier to create a virtual job posting where people can apply.
If you don’t already, you should have a dynamic digital recruitment process in place for your organization that includes a careers portal and other online resources to make onboarding simple. You may have been using this portal for years to recruit in-person talent. Now, you can use it to recruit your virtual talent, as well.
Of course, the best way to find virtual employees that fit the roles in your organization is to work with a quality recruiting agency. Recruiters have networks across the country and around the world, helping every industry and business to source talent from everywhere.
Since the position is remote, the pool is much larger and you should take advantage of the resourcefulness, experience and recruitment methods used by a professional recruiter. You can work with them to cultivate the best virtual employees for the positions that you need to fill.
The biggest challenges to hiring virtual employees
Although the digital recruiting and hiring process has been streamlined, many are still struggling to figure out how to manage their remote employees effectively.
It can be difficult when you’re not in the same building or room with people to keep tabs on them. The best way to circumvent this is to establish clear expectations, deadlines, and goals for all employees from the beginning.
Virtual employees also require more specialized training for the online platforms they will be using. They will need to be taught how to engage in and manage their virtual workflows and communicate with management and other team members. If this training is not provided, the employees may fail to excel in their virtual role.
Managing remote team members
To effectively manage virtual employees and remote teams, you need a set of standard operating procedures in place. This should include a variety of communication tools and options, from email to chat and even phone or text.
Structured daily or weekly check-ins are a must. Build them into the work week for your employees, even if it’s something as simple as a midday progress report or a quick check-in meeting every week. If you give people a place to be held accountable, they will follow suit.
One of the biggest areas companies drop the ball with remote employees is in social engagement—you need to make time for social interaction and remote events can fill this gap. Traditional workplaces always have socialization and events that people can attend to engage outside of work hours. It makes people feel like they belong and connected to the company’s culture.
Logistical and Emotional Support
Finally, you need to support your team, both logistically and emotionally. There’s often a bigger learning curve for virtual employees and some people may need more assistance than others with logistical and technological needs.
Most importantly, provide emotional support for virtual employees who may be feeling isolated, overwhelmed, or otherwise uncertain about their new role. That’s often the most overlooked part of the management of virtual employees, but it’s one of the most necessary aspects.
What to look for in a virtual recruiting partner
As mentioned earlier, the best way to recruit and hire talent when you are looking for virtual employees is to work with a recruiting partner. Recruiting agencies have established relationships and networks of talent that they can source to find the best talent available.
Virtual recruiters are (or should be) a cost-effective solution to hiring. Ask for a breakdown of their service charges and find out how much it’s going to cost you to invest in the partnership. In most cases, it will always be worth the investment because of the access to high-quality talent without having to invest the effort in your own talent search.
Ready for a white-glove virtual recruiting experience?