3 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Virtual Employee

Anne Lackey

Post-COVID, companies are going to have to adapt. Many companies will change their policies about visitors, working from home, and there will be a new standard for office cleaning to keep employees safe. All of these changes mean that as business owners, we need to evaluate, change, and enforce the new policies.

I have been managing remote teams for more than 5 years now. I have worked with hundreds of clients to help them prepare for blending remote and in-office teams. I am helping them prepare and work together to thrive & improve their business processes and increase customer service. 

The COVID interruption minimally impacted my clients. Most of my clients are using this disruption to evaluate their staff, right size, and become more efficient. 

After evaluating the successes and failures of business owners to navigate the use of remote and in-house workers, I can identify 3 areas where business owners struggle: Technology, management, and data security.

TECHNOLOGY

Phones

Most companies have determined that the old POTS line with a PBX has gone the way of the technology dinosaur. What they don’t realize is the VOIP phone system that they have can generally easily be adapted for remote workers. We recommend using the software phone on the computer with a wired connection versus using wi-fi. Wi-fi connections, even at high speeds, can lose packets and make the call sound unprofessional.

Computers

Many companies have cloud-based software that allows for remote team members to connect when outside of the office. For the few programs that are not cloud-based, there are other options like Terminal Server that allow for quick access remotely. A quick call to the IT consultant can generally solve this issue.

MANAGEMENT

The implementation of virtual employees will highlight strong managers and weak managers as well. In an office setting, it is easier to form connections and bonds that can make up for weak managerial practices and communication. Managing a virtual team requires excellent communication and commitment to keep the team from becoming disjointed. 

If the company has clear goals and outcomes, it is easy to implement Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to evaluate anyone’s performance fairly. 

KPIs, along with regular targeted interactions with the team, helps everyone focus on the primary goal of the company and department. This management style allows a manager to be unbias, help with training or deficiencies in the team, and allows for better overall employee experience. 

Knowing the targets helps the employees stay engaged and help self-manage their performance. It also allows for them to seek help when they realize they are below the bar.

SECURITY

When thinking about using virtual employees, the company needs to evaluate its data security and policies. Security can be addressed in a few ways.

Background Checks

When we are providing virtual employees for our clients, we can perform a full criminal background check similar to what the FBI does. Not every country has that available to them. We feel this is an essential first step in hiring virtual employees.

Computer Policy

Virtual employees oftentimes are using their personal equipment. As such, they use that equipment for various tasks, which may include a child’s entertainment. This can lead to the introduction of malware and viruses, which can infect the whole network if you are not careful. We recommend that every client has a written policy about equipment, pay for anti-virus and anti-malware software for their virtual employees, and perform regular maintenance on their computer to try and prevent any issues. 

Data Policy

Virtual employees working from home have access to the company’s most prized possession, their intellectual property, their client lists, and other sensitive documents. For this reason, having a clear data policy, non-compete, & non-disclosure documents are a must. As a business owner, you want to do everything you can to set the expectation of how to handle sensitive data. Providing rules about printed material, access to only the data required for the role, and regular reminders about data protocol are all important.

At HireSmart Virtual Employees, we walk our clients through all of these issues and provide tools and training to make sure you have the very best experience when hiring virtual employees. If you have ever thought about how you can implement full time dedicated virtual staff to reduce your payroll costs while providing a better customer experience, set a time to speak with us – BOOK A CALL.

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