Hireology has always operated with a hybrid work model. Since our founding in 2009, about 40% of our workforce has been located outside of our Chicago headquarters. When the pandemic hit and new stay-at-home orders were put in place, ten years of experience operating a hybrid workforce model served to guide as we rapidly transitioned our entire office to work from home.
As we round a corner on the pandemic, we too are excited to get back to some sense of normalcy. But we can’t ignore that this year has changed a lot about what we consider to be “normal” — including what employees are looking for from their organizations.
The flexibility that comes with remote working is something that both our internal employees and US workforce have said is important to their work-life balance — and the past year has proven that a majority of positions, teams, and organizations can function, and even thrive, in this type of setting.
The current employment situation lends itself to remote work, as well. With nearly 40% of the US population now vaccinated, businesses around the country are beginning to open their doors and increase capacity, and in turn hire more employees. However, many companies have struggled to bring on new talent. Last month, the unemployment rate increased for the first time this year — and not because there weren’t enough available jobs. Individuals are hesitant to return to the workforce, likely due to increased unemployment benefits, child care responsibilities, and health concerns around contracting the coronavirus.
As a result, many industries are switching to hybrid workforce models to continue to attract talent: Twitter recently announced that employees are free to work from anywhere forever, Spotify introduced their Work from Anywhere policy, and GM and Ford have both launched hybrid work options for their employees.
Opening up remote positions will likely require some tweaks to your hiring process, but the transition can allow you to attract more talent, increase productivity, and even save money with reduced operation costs, so it’s a critical component to consider.
Hireology has seen a great deal of success through our hybrid work model, so for the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing a series of Hireology case studies to give you a clear understanding of how we hire remote team members, inside and outside of a pandemic.
Here’s our first installment, from the perspective of Anil Harjani, Vice President of Product at Hireology.
Why Remote Works
Anil Harjani has been with Hireology for nearly three years and is responsible for Hireology’s product team and strategic partnerships.
Anil is a big fan of the hybrid work model, and has seen success running his remote team of 19 long before the pandemic began.
“The hybrid model allows people to be their best selves, and that’s of course my desired outcome,” said Anil. “Flexibility has been a premium in work cultures, and now it’s a default state of being, and that has empowered people who previously felt stressed.”
The pandemic has tasked many individuals with additional responsibilities — like child care, physical health and safety concerns, and an increased strain on mental health — and Hireology understands and supports the lifestyle we’ve all had to adjust to.
“Work from home, a coffee shop, or from Aruba… if being your best self means you do some time and location shifting, we support you,” said Anil. “What works for you to be your best is my desired outcome.”
Anil loves that his talent pool isn’t limited due to location, so he can tap into great employees around the country. And, the ability to spread brand awareness beyond the Chicago area brings great opportunity for new talent.
“The fact that we are able to attract talent from outside the region means we have a great product and a great employee value proposition, and that’s a huge advantage,” said Anil.
“Flexibility has been a premium in work cultures, and now it’s a default state of being.”
-Anil Harjani, Hireology’s VP of Product
Breaking Through the Barriers
Before the pandemic, Anil was able to fly in prospective applicants to meet the team, take a tour of the office, and get some important face-time. But because COVID restrictions have made that impossible, Anil has had to get creative with how he breaks through the virtual barriers that Zoom interviews present.
“Before you could do the coffee chat, you could tour the office, you could have some small talk to bookend the interview process and help break down walls,” said Anil. “But [the pandemic has] changed the way I think you need to connect with candidates.”
The separation created by virtual interviews can make building relationships challenging, so Anil has found that demonstrating his humanity instantly is a helpful way to break through the barriers and isolation that a Zoom interview can create.
“I’ve got to have chemistry with [candidates] through this medium, and that means I’m going to strip away my boundaries and barriers and be vulnerable in the moment, and I need them to be there too. This may mean that I won’t act weird if my kids pop into the zoom, and I don’t hit mute when they demand a snack.”
One Culture, Not Two
Hireology has been very intentional with creating a workplace that’s inclusive. Our company culture drives employees to be good people, take accountability, and make decisions that better the overall customer and employee experience. This approach has been paramount to attracting and retaining both in-person and remote employees.
“We’ve built all these different solutions within our culture to help people feel supported,” said Anil. With unlimited PTO, mental health days, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion council, and extended efforts from our People team to replicate the office camaraderie that makes Hireology an outstanding place to work, we’ve been able to keep our teams engaged and connected long before the pandemic began.
“We don’t have the remote team and the onsite team, it is all Hireology,” said Adam Robinson, Hireology’s CEO. “When we first created this model, we had to ask ourselves what we needed to do to bring that cohesive culture to life. It required a lot of trial and error, and honestly we weren’t great at it at first, but now a decade later I think we’ve figured out what it takes.”
Hireology prioritizes four main focus areas when it comes to ensuring our culture is inclusive for every employee: core values, technology, connection, and trust. Adam went over why these are non-negotiables for Hireology in our recent “Reimagining the Workforce” webinar series (which you can watch here), but in essence, they help to keep all employees on the same page.
“We don’t have the remote team and the onsite team, it is all Hireology.”
-Adam Robinson, Hireology’s CEO
How to Find Great Remote Employees
When it comes to the characteristics of a great remote employee, Anil looks for individuals who have outstanding self management skills.
“I think you’ve got to have the ability to feel comfortable in having self discipline and self management around your time, around your day, around your own efforts, because you’re not going to have your boss walking by, or your colleagues saying, ‘How is that project coming along?’” said Anil. “You’re going to be given more space as a virtue of the organic factors [of remote work], and that space is on you.”
This makes it essential for Anil’s new hires to be organized, have great time management, and execute on projects with little oversight. He also pays attention to non-verbal communication, like if his applicants make eye contact, and their comfort level with being on virtual calls. Anil knows that remote employees have to rely heavily on virtual meetings to not just manage tasks but also facilitate conversation, drive change, and orchestrate decision making, so he looks for employees who have a good grasp on the medium.
Onboarding in a Remote Environment
The first 90 days of the employee lifecycle are the most important, as what happens during a new employee’s first three months shapes how long they plan to stay with a company, how successful they will be in their role, and how they contribute to the workplace culture. So, ensuring the onboarding process goes smoothly is essential.
But remote onboarding can be tricky without the right process in place, as communication can be limited without the opportunity for face-to-face meetings. Hireology has taken the time to create an onboarding process that’s exciting and stimulating to all employees, no matter where they are.
“The feedback I hear often is that remote onboarding is the best onboarding, because we put so much more thought into making sure people feel included and welcome,” said Anil.
In a new hire’s first few weeks at Hireology, they’ll meet with different teams, gain organizational structure and background information, learn the expectations of their role, and have virtual meet-and-greets to form relationships.
Anil also creates a docket that covers everything they’ll be doing for the first month of onboarding, including content to go over, such as Hireology blogs and industry news, and twice-daily meetings to make sure that all their questions are answered and they feel comfortable as they ramp up.
“Explanations are so clear that there’s not a single day that goes by where [my new hires] are not sure what’s going on,” said Anil. “Which is really important because I can’t just pull them into meetings casually or have passing conversations with them. I have to structure it a little bit more than that.”
“It’s Not All Business All the Time”
Working remotely can present a challenge to team camaraderie, as you don’t get the same face-time with your colleagues as you would in the office. But Anil makes sure to sprinkle in some fun activities to keep his team enjoying themselves and building connections. “Connectivity is huge for me,” said Anil. “It’s not all business all the time.”
Recently, one of Anil’s teammates organized an activity and surprised their teams with headphone assembly kits that they all built together over Zoom. “You’re working on the craft together, your problem solving together, which was a lot of fun,” said Anil.
Anil also encouraged his team to plan fun activities to promote virtual engagement, along with other ice breaker activities. These small breaks from their otherwise busy schedules help to keep Anil’s team feeling connected to one another and engaged with the organization.
How the Hireology Platform Helps with Remote Hiring
At Hireology, we rely on our own platform to hire new team members, so we of course need our product to facilitate a remote hiring process.
“In many ways, we built our product out of a function of our own experience,” said Anil. He uses the Hireology platform and mobile app to move candidates through the hiring process quickly, because he knows top talent is gone in the blink of an eye.
“There have been times I’ve run someone through the process and within 24 hours they were extended an offer,” said Anil. “Others have been within three and six days, but when I find the right candidate, I move at lightning speed because I don’t want to lose my shot, and that wouldn’t be possible without the use of the platform.”
Anil makes sure to continuously engage with his candidates throughout the hiring process in-platform messaging so that they know where they stand. His team utilizes the built-in interview guides to ensure consistency and fairness when selecting candidates, and automatic reference checks to get a better understanding of each candidates’ background. These tools allow him to expedite the hiring process to guarantee he hires the right individuals.
And on the back of Anil accepting his offer with Hireology nearly three years ago, he had some “aha moments” that made him feel more excited for his new role than ever before.
“I received a text from my new boss saying ‘We’re so excited to have you on the team!’” Anil shared. “We were able to communicate even before my first day, and it felt very personal, and I really appreciated it.”
Additionally, Anil was able to complete his onboarding paperwork from his phone while running errands, giving him a sense of accomplishment and ease regarding his impending first day. “I did it in a store within five minutes, and I felt like I was ready to go for day one,” said Anil.
Best-in-Class Remote Hiring
There’s a lot of moving pieces to ensuring new hires — remote or in-person — are set up for success. But Hireology has made huge strides to create a workplace that welcomes everyone, near and far.
“I think Hireology has established itself as one of the best places for remote work in general, because we put so much thought into the [remote experience],” said Anil.
Whether your company is currently hiring remotely or you’ve not yet made the jump, Hireology is equipped to help you hire your best team. Schedule a one-on-one consultation where we can walk you through how Hireology’s experience with remote hiring and our hiring platform can help you get the right people in your open roles.
“I think Hireology has established itself as one of the best places for remote work in general, because we put so much thought into the [remote experience].”
-Anil Harjani, Hireology’s VP of Product