3 Key Questions to Ask Remote Candidates

Remote work, while being recognized as more mainstream, especially now, is not suitable for everyone.  It takes a certain type of person to work effectively away from an office setting.  Independence, good time management skills, resourcefulness, and trustworthiness are some qualities an employer should seek in a candidate applying for a remote role.

So how can you determine whether a candidate will succeed at teleworking?  Consider asking these 3 key questions during an interview to help assess for remote suitability.

How do you prioritize tasks?

It’s important to know that the candidate can distinguish between important and less important tasks and make the call independently as to which ones go to the top of the list. Ask about what strategies they use to assess their workload and keep track of their progress as well as how they structure their workday.  If the candidate needs a lot of direction from their manager to organize tasks and requires frequent checking-in to ensure that they are focussing on the right things, working remotely might prove challenging.      

What makes you an effective communicator?

In an office setting people can constantly see you so it’s much easier to share your thoughts spontaneously and engage others in conversation.  And while there are many different technologies that companies can implement to help facilitate collaboration and inclusiveness, making your voice heard as a remote employee is often a challenge and could potentially lead to disengagement.  You want to make sure that the candidate is comfortable reaching out to others and initiating conversations, that they can leverage collaborative technologies to their full potential, and that they can communicate their ideas clearly, without hesitation. 

How do you maintain work-life balance?

Many of us who have worked from home regularly for an extended period of time can attest to the fact that it is easy to blur the line between professional and personal life.  While remote work offers more flexibility in daily schedules, it is easy and sometimes even tempting to keep on working beyond allotted work hours, eventually leading to burnout.  You want to make sure that the candidate is cognizant of this fact and that they have strategies in place to help them work most efficiently without jeopardizing their mental health.

Key Questions To Ask Remote Employers

As we recover from the pandemic and some companies make the move towards establishing remote work on a permanent basis, candidates will likely see a lot more opportunities for teleworking roles. While it may not be an ideal fit for everyone, remote jobs provide greater flexibility, less constraints around location, and a more technology dependent working environment.

In order to assess whether the remote role you’re applying for is well supported by the organization that’s offering it, consider asking these 3 questions at the interview:

1. Can you describe your company’s remote culture?
Some companies might have an established remote workforce while others might be new to this. Because remote employees can feel disconnected, it’s important for organizations to bring everyone together, encourage frequent collaboration, and have a check-in system in place. Get a sense of how frequently the teams communicate and by what method, whether there are any virtual team events in place, or what their policies are for creating an inclusive culture that address the challenges of distance work.

2. What technologies do you have in place to support remote work?
There are many different technologies on the market that allow for collaboration and communication between team members, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Slack. You want to ensure that the company will provide such resources so you can get to know everyone at the company and have an established method of communication with your team. It is also key to determine how easily you’ll be able to share and access files. Is the company working from a cloud environment? What type of IT support will be provided? Make sure that you are comfortable or open to learning their tech stack.

3. How do you track productivity of remote employees?
Productivity tracking is done differently across organizations and even teams within one company. Some roles require closer monitoring than others. Companies can track work by using technologies such as ActivTrak or opt for an honour system. It’s important to find out what the process and expectations are around the role you’re applying for. Are you expected to work during certain hours or is there room for flexibility? Does this job have frequent deadlines and a defined reporting structure? Get as much clarity on expectations as you can.

When you interview for a remote role, ask the right questions to gauge your fit. Companies that have a well-thought-out remote work support system in place will add to your and their success.

Return to Work Anxiety: How to Help Your Employees

As governments loosen restrictions, many employers have begun developing plans to ensure that employees are brought back to an office setting safely. This includes operational and logistical considerations, setting up employee schedules, elevator usage policies and much more. But it’s important to also address and plan for how to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety around the return to work.

These uncertain times have taken a toll on the mental health of many employees, affecting future productivity and engagement levels. According to a survey conducted by KRC Research and Weber Shandwick, 45 per cent of employees are afraid that their employer will bring them back to the office before it is safe. Additionally, only 34 per cent of employees feel safe returning to work when there is a vaccine or treatment and 52 per cent of employees have growing concerns about the future of their company and their role.

Here are few tips that can help employers strategize for the new normal and address return-to work anxiety:

1. Communicate transparently and regularly
Consistent two-way communication is key to managing employee anxiety. Ensure that your teams receive regular updates about company performance, ongoing initiatives and any business-related information. Keep employees abreast of information that is critical to their role and to the success of your organization. Endorse transparency and engage teams to be a part of the growing conversation.

2. Implement Recommended Public Health Measures
Employees need to be aware of how the company is implementing, monitoring and enforcing government recommended public health measures. CDC provides a comprehensive guideline to help businesses and employers respond to COVID19 within the workplace. Provide your employees with assurance that preventive steps are being taken, closely monitor developments and update protocols as the situation evolves.

3. Provide training to leadership teams
Employees will depend on their managers and leaders to ensure a smooth back to work transition. Organize virtual training sessions that focus on managing a hybrid workforce, developing emotional intelligence and building a collaborative work culture. Arm your leaders with the necessary resources and tools to effectively address employee anxiety over return to work and provide healthy ways to cope with it.

4. Be Flexible
If your company has implemented remote work, consider surveying your employees to see how they feel about continuing that arrangement for a definitive period of time. Gauge the success of your remote work experiment by monitoring the productivity and engagement levels. Employees will expect flexibility, particularly if they are looking after children and parents. For employees that thrive better in an office setting, evaluate and plan for hybrid working arrangements.

How to Market Company Culture on Social Media

There aren’t too many companies today that don’t have a social media presence. Social media is a mainstream marketing tool, highly effective at growing brand awareness, cultivating relationships with your customers, and promoting your products or services. But do you ever use this all-star tool to highlight your company culture? If the answer is no, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to attract talent.

Passive and active job seekers will inevitably explore your company pages across different social channels and will even look at profiles of your existing employees. Which is why it’s so important to regularly post social content that paints a genuine portrait of your company’s culture, the perks and benefits of working there, and the amazing people that you employ.

Celebrate your employees
One way to showcase your company on social media is by celebrating your employees. Highlights of employee milestones, personal stories, and welcome messages about new additions to the team are great suggestions. A big trend on social media right now is content around unique ways in which people are working from home and dealing with its challenges (sometimes comically). Doing this shows the potential candidate that you value your workers, that you take pride in their contributions. Plus, such posts are also more likely to result in greater brand advocacy, yielding more internal likes and shares.

Promote company events
Does your company host a regular social outing? Or do you organize an annual team building affair or a charity drive? If so, show it off! Candidates love seeing the fun (and charitable) side of your business. While the pandemic has put the zap on any physical events for the time being, if you’re big on organizing any virtual ones, like a virtual coffee break and catch-up session, make sure to promote this as well. It’s important for potential candidates to see that you are going the extra mile, especially now, to bring your team together, in a fun way.

Profile your leaders
Building a profile for your leadership team is also a good way to showcase your company culture. Some organizations post written messages by leaders, others share videos of them speaking about an important topic. Videos, in fact, generate 12 times more likes and shares than text and images. Both are great ways of showing their personalities and thought leadership. Also, encourage your leadership team to comment on content posted through the company page. A vocal leadership team that is at the forefront of your content will give a glimpse to potential candidates of how your company operates.

Boast about perks and benefits
If your company provides any cool perks or in-demand benefits, talk about that in your social media content as well. For example, one company we worked with allowed dogs in the office every Friday, so their social media post for Fridays included photos of dogs working alongside the employees with a cheeky caption. Company perks, progressive policies, and benefits are all the hype and something that candidates definitely look for when choosing which company to work for.

Identify your values
Lastly, but very importantly, don’t forget to include curated content about your company’s values. Whether it’s a statement about your commitment to diversity and inclusiveness or philanthropic initiatives, job seekers want to know what you stand up for, what you believe in, and what principles guide your organization. By being vocal about this you will more likely attract candidates that share these same values.

It’s a good idea to embed company culture in all of your marketing materials but social media allows you to do it in creative ways, more frequently, and helps to spread the message further. By seeing who you are as a company, candidates will be able to make more informed choices and be better matched to your culture.

How to Avoid Job Search Burnout

Looking for work is like a job itself. It involves a lot of strategic planning, hard work and patience. Whether it is the pandemic that has forced you to look for new employment opportunities, or you have been on the hunt for a while now, don’t let job searching burn you out.

Here are some best practices to help you:

1. Develop a Strategy: Build a daily routine with specific goals and work your way through them. Start your job search process by determining your career aspirations and evaluating any skills gaps. Update your resume with latest work experience, certifications and expertise. Use your time effectively by brainstorming ideal companies you would like to work for and make yourself familiar with their job application process.

2. Track Your Job Search: When you do not have a plan in place, it is easy to lose track of the jobs you have applied for. It is very common these days to apply for multiple opportunities, confuse companies and positions and forget to follow up. One of the best ways to keep track of your job applications is to maintain an active spreadsheet that details out company name, job role, job title, job source, point of contact etc. This will help you stay organized during your job search, keeping priorities in check and saving you from squandering precious time and energy.

3. Leverage Your Network & Social Channels: This is the right time to tap into your network, connect with former colleagues, friends and get your name out there. Let people know that you are actively looking for opportunities and share your personal brand. Utilize this time to get creative and make the most out of your social profiles. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70% of hiring managers use social media to screen candidates. Channelize your passion and engage in meaningful conversations on social media. From updating your LinkedIn profile to creating content, getting yourself out there can put you in the right place at the right time.

4. Be Patient: During your job search process, try to maintain a positive outlook and believe in yourself. Remember that job searching is a process and will not deliver results overnight. Ideally, you want to find a role that motivates you to work better everyday and be a part of a work family that supports professional and personal development goals.

4 Ways to Boost Employee Morale While Working Remotely

Retaining employee morale is a struggle point for many employers right now. The Society for Human Resource Management states that 65% of employers find maintaining employee morale during COVID-19 to be a problem.

It’s not surprising that decreased productivity and disengagement are the result of our current working conditions: working from home, often feeling isolated and anxious about COVID19, having to parent children while focusing on work tasks, unable to make meaningful connections with your coworkers virtually, and feeling burned out with limited outlets to relieve stress.

We have all heard the statistics before and know that happy employees make for a successful business. Disengaged workers can cost anywhere between $483-605 billion per year according to Gallup’s, State of the American Workplace Report, and that’s under normal circumstances.

But how to keep employees happy right now? It’s not so easy. Company owners and managers have to get a bit more creative, and go the extra mile, to keep their teams engaged, productive, and satisfied. We offer some simple ways to boost morale and retain your top talent throughout the pandemic and thereafter:

1. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development: Learning new things has never been easier. Offer your team time and resources to develop new skills, explore their creativity, and catch up on industry trends. This will build confidence and focus while helping to cultivate a growth-mindset for the company. Encourage participation at informative virtual events such as industry specific webinars. Show your employees that there is room to grow, even right now, by moving forward with rather than halting any career advancement opportunities. Lastly, allow your employees to apply their new knowledge as their evolution will ultimately translate into company growth.

2. Recognize & Reward: This is not the time to skimp on praise and recognitions. Mental health issues are on the rise. The challenges of working in isolation have led to lower confidence and general feelings of being left out. Provide recognition to your team for their efforts to keep them feeling motivated and valued. Cultivate a work environment that supports constant feedback and acknowledgement. Consider rewarding employees for achieving targets and delivering quality work.

3. Celebrate “Togetherness”: Making work fun is a bit tricky right now when you can’t treat your team to after work drinks or organize a company scavenger hunt where colleagues can bond over an entertaining activity. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in other ways. Virtual company events can be as effective in bonding coworkers and providing opportunities for some fun. There are several new companies on the market right now that offer moderated virtual events such as murder mystery or bingo games.

4. Increase flexibility: Being a flexible employer right now is key. Working from home can easily blur the line between professional and personal life. This is part of the challenge and the reason why many employees are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and therefore disengaged. And with kids at home it is often difficult to maintain a 9-5 schedule. Acknowledge these struggle points and work with your team to develop a plan that will ensure optimal productivity even if that means they have to take the afternoon off but work into the night.

Make employee wellness the center of your business strategy. Invest in strengthening your employees’ emotional commitment towards work and focus on engagement practices that will help them to flourish and feel united with the company.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Remote Leadership

Currently almost 40% of Canadian employees are working remotely due the COVID19 outbreak. If given a choice, 80% of employees would prefer to continue working from home at least some days of the week, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Employees consider remote work as their ideal work scenario because it leads to greater work-life balance and increases productivity levels. But managing a remote team is not always easy. Managers struggle with feeling of decreased control over their team, monitoring challenges, and problem solving.

Here are some tips to help leaders become better remote workforce managers:

Do

1. Communicate Frequently: Keep your team engaged and connected on a daily basis. Utilizing communication channels and collaboration software is a great way to build and retain engagement. Schedule regular check-ins via video meetings to ensure inclusivity and provide opportunities for employees to raise any issues. Make sure to develop and communicate appropriate work-from home guidelines that define expectations. Just as you would at the office, encourage collaboration on projects and regular feedback.

2. Be Flexible: Regular work hours might be difficult to impose especially under the current circumstances where many kids are at home with their parents. Recognize that this is an un-ordinarily challenging time for many of your employees and being rigid will do more harm than good. Trust your team and provide them with flexibility to work on a schedule that helps them be the most productive. If productivity becomes an issue, especially with an employee that has always been outstanding at their work, learn what is causing this decrease, and work together to develop a solution to get back on track.

3. Set Your Team Up for Success: Remote team collaboration is highly dependent on reliable technology. Ensure that your team has access to appropriate resources and equipment to help them get their work done effectively and to work well together. Also provide your team with sufficient IT support should something go wrong. Remind your team to take breaks and take good care of themselves, physically and mentally. Develop strategies to keep motivation up such as rewards or positive feedback.


Don’t

1. Avoid Video Calls: Digital tools have made remote communication convenient, but that does not guarantee effectiveness. Face-to-face interactions are extremely important to understand non-verbal cues and develop reactions based on what you see, rather than what you read or hear. In addition to emails and texts, managers should incorporate adequate face-to-face communication in their daily routine.

2. Focus On Control: Sometimes managers tend to focus too much on controlling scenarios and how work is performed. This creates a hostile environment for employees, who may already be feeling the pressure of a new way of working. Trust your team and focus on the outcomes, not processes.

3. Lose Company Culture & Connectivity: Remember staying well into the evening, eating pizza with your colleagues, working on that milestone project? Or popping your head into your co-worker’s office to bounce some ideas off of them? This is part of what builds a strong corporate culture and binds people together. Try to translate traditional office activities into your new virtual setting. Organize in-person team gatherings at least once a month, bringing everyone together to reconnect in person.

Will a four-day work week become the new normal of employment?

In 2018, nearly 70 per cent of Canadians said they would prefer a compressed four-day work week, rather than a five-day work week, according to an Angus Reid poll. Not much has changed since then. Many leaders, in fact, are now weighing the opportunity of utilizing a compressed work structure to rebuild the current economy.

We surveyed our LinkedIn audience about the benefits of a four-day work week, and the results were not surprising. 54 per cent of the respondents claimed that it would bring in greater work-life balance, while 34 percent suggested that it would increase productivity.

So here’s the big question: are businesses and government organizations equipped to embrace a four-day work week? This idea is compelling and feasible but it requires thorough evaluation and strategic execution.

1. Who Would Benefit? Companies should consider which demographic of people would benefit the most from a compressed work week. Some believe that a 4-day work week would best suit people who are in their 50’s and 60’s. This economically influential generation can make use of an extra day off by attending to tasks that are being put off such as doctor’s appointments, spending time with loved ones or pursuing a new passion. On the other hand, millennials and gen Z’s are more focused on shaping work priorities in ways that fit their daily lives, which includes remote work or a compressed work week.

2. Establishing A Trial Period: A four-day work structure is highly dependent on business and employee needs. Employees are drawn towards companies that offer flexibility and with a four-day work week concept, companies can become more desirable to job seekers. Perhaps doing a trial run for a couple of months and monitoring productivity and employee satisfaction is a good beginning point. In 2018, New Zealand’s Perpetual Guardian, a trust management company, tested this compressed work structure for 2 months with 240 team members. Productivity levels increased by 20 per cent and employee stress levels reduced by 7 per cent. Similarly, in August 2019, Microsoft Japan experimented this concept with it’s Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer Program, giving 2,300 employees five Fridays off without a pay decrease and a 40 per cent increase in productivity.

3. Assessing Business Operations: To evaluate whether a 4-day work concept is suitable for a company, leadership teams need to start by understanding their work culture and make decisions around the seasonality of their business. For instance, in California, an employee is entitled to over-time pay after eight hours of work a day. This means a non-exempt employee on a four-day work week would be receiving eight hours of overtime pay every week, if companies move to a 4 day, 40 work hours scenario.

4. Stakeholder Evaluation: Businesses should examine the impact of a four-day work week structure on its stakeholders on both sides of the value chain. Will companies lose valuable business by not being available five days of the week? If your clients/vendors operate on a traditional work schedule, but your team is working a compressed week, how is this going to impact coordination and ultimately productivity? Be prepared for the challenges associated with a compressed work week and plan accordingly to mitigate any issues.


A three-day weekend sounds great, but it may not be suitable for everyone and every business. There are certainly pros and cons to doing this. Will it become a new normal of employment? Perhaps. But it will likely happen in stages and require a widespread change in attitude.

The Pros and Cons of Virtual Accounting Teams

Remote work is reshaping the future of employment, inclusive of finance roles. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Confidence Index, 83 percent of Finance professionals claim that they can be individually effective when working remotely while 82 percent felt the entire industry could be remotely effective. Which is not surprising considering that many finance tasks do not require frequent interaction between people. Are virtual accounting teams then the way of the future? Maybe so. Companies shouldn’t dismiss the idea.

We put together a list of pros and cons for employing a virtual finance and accounting team, to help get the conversation started:

PROS

Real-Time Access To Accounts: Cloud-based accounting software such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Wave and Xero and file hosting platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox have enabled accounting teams to work remotely and share financial data easily. Leadership teams can access up-to date financial reports in a timely manner and can be sure to achieve higher data accuracy because of the multiple eyes on the books. Real-time access to accounts also allows for data-driven decision making.

Flexible Hiring: Virtual accounting professionals can be more easily hired on an as needed basis and are unrestricted by geography thus expanding your talent pool. Since accounting and bookkeeping needs can vary from one financial period to another, companies can hire contract/temporary accounting professionals to work on specific projects for a certain number of hours without the hassle of setting them up in a physical setting.

Cost Savings: With virtual accounting teams, companies can benefit from reduced overhead costs, like paying for extra office space and supplies to accommodate additional hires, especially ones that come on board for a temporary period to help with project needs.  There is also potential to save costs on computers if you allow your remote team to use personal devices.  

CONS

Limited Control: Managers could feel that a certain degree of control has been lost with virtual teams. Therefore, it is important to maintain consistent communication and conduct regular check-ins to keep a tab on the company’s finances.

Poor Coordination: If your accounting team requires on-site collaboration with other departments or needs access to in-house systems to carry out specific functions, going virtual might result in poor coordination and hinder productivity.

Data Security Threats: As company’s leverage cloud-based technologies for remote data access, it becomes easier for hackers to misuse sensitive financial information. Safeguarding financial information beyond the bounds of a company’s internal network is crucial. Virtual accounting teams should consider implementing multi-factor authentication to ensure that confidential information is not being compromised at any cost.

Remote Onboarding: How to Better Integrate New Hires

When we bring on a new employee, we go the extra mile to make them feel welcomed. We like to leave a special note on their desk with a motivational message. There are lots of introductions and friendly handshakes. Maybe a special lunch event organized. But alas, not anymore. Remote onboarding has proven to be a totally different experience.

While it’s hard to recreate the enthusiasm that you get from a physical in-person introduction to a group of people in an office, making new employees feel appreciated and welcomed should not be deprioritized during this time. Companies can simply make some adaptations to their regular on-boarding routines and make use of technology in order to continue to make a great impression on new hires.

For this article, we spoke with Mark Nishikawa of HIRE Technologies and Lindsay Carson of ProVision Staffing, both of whom had to be introduced into our work family remotely. They shared tips and experiences to help us craft a guide for a more successful onboarding of remote workers:

Digitize on-boarding documents

On-boarding employees usually involves a lot of paperwork, from signing deposit and tax forms to integrating the new hire into a company-wide benefits plan. Digitizing these documents can translate into meaningful time and cost savings for the employer and employee. HR software such as BambooHR, WorkBright, ClearCompany, Zenefits & ProProfs Knowledge Base automate the on-boarding process. For example, ProProfs Knowledge Base helps managers create a virtual employee handbook to familiarize new hires with company policies, vision, mission etc. “Digitizing the onboarding process frees managers from manual paperwork and allows them to shift their focus on optimizing new hire engagement,” Mark suggested.

Setting up a work-from-home station

Cloud-based technologies make it easy for new employees to hit the ground running even from home. Offer assistance in setting those up and make sure to assign appropriate user permissions to avoid frustrations. “It’s helpful to get an overview of what applications and tools are required for the job and to have the login credentials noted in one place,” Lindsay suggested. Be sure to also ship any required hardware (such as laptops) in advance of the start date, preferably all set up and ready to go.

Communication is key

Good, widespread communication is always important but especially so when everyone is working remotely. Announce the addition of a new employee with a company-wide email briefly outlining their role. Include a short profile with their interests and hobbies to help start conversations among the team. “It helps to feel welcome when your manager reaches out consistently and tries to answer your questions,” Lindsay pointed out.

Use Video Conferencing

Face-to-face interactions through video calls are vital to the success of remote onboarding. “A group call to introduce the members of the company is helpful because you can put a face to a name,” Mark mentioned. Organize regular group video calls, even if brief, for the benefit of helping the new employee interact with their coworkers, rebuild office banter, and help keep your company culture alive.

One-on-one meetings

Don’t forget that new employees need a little bit more attention. You want them to last, you want them to be engaged, and you want them to succeed, after all. In an office it is easy to see when someone is struggling or finding something to be a challenge. But remotely not so much. One-on-one virtual meetings or calls between the new employee and their manager are a good way to provide support, identify struggle points, and nurture a professional relationship.