Hello and welcome to a new interview from our series “The Workplace Scoop”!
Today’s guest: Justine Camacho, in charge of Marketing and Partnerships for We Work Remotely, the number one destination to find and list remote jobs.
Today’s topic: remote working – skills, culture, and trends.
Let’s get going!
Remote work arrangements: the recent evolution
Alina from Tidaro: Which trends did you witness over the past 3 years of connecting employers and employees across remote work arrangements?
Justine: The last three years have been very interesting for remote work. From having to go remote to finding out remote work is great to going back to the office, we’ve had it all.
What I’ve seen through and through is that what’s becoming important is for people to have a choice. It doesn’t matter if they want to work back in an office or if they want to stay remote. What’s important is that they can choose… that we can all choose!
I see that’s where companies are connecting better with employees, by offering them a choice.
Alina from Tidaro: Good point, Justine! When we have a choice, we feel empowered. From the psychological perspective, having a choice makes us feel more in control. And that’s a good feeling most of us look for.
Now, how do you feel companies are adjusting their structures and policies to ensure desirable and equitable work environments?
We are curious about lunches for example. Lunch could be a perk for on-site employees. But what happens to it when there are also remote employees? How do companies compensate for certain benefits for employees on-site versus remote ones, so that, at the end of the day, equality is achieved?
Justine: I think a lot of remote companies aren’t adjusting. What they’re doing is creating new policies and structures to precisely ensure that workplaces are desirable and equitable. That’s very exciting to see! It’s really cool to discover that more companies are investing time and effort in creating workplaces that will be desirable for their employees.
We really don’t have a lot of experience with hybrid companies, like the ones you’re mentioning in the examples, so most remote-first companies that post at We Work Remotely, really don’t have to worry about those things.
But what we’ve seen in the companies that are hybrid is that they have a remote-first mentality. This means that the default is remote so nobody’s relying on in-office perks as a selling point for their jobs. Thinking about perks like having lunch at the office, for example, isn’t relevant when what people want is to have more flexibility to pick up their kids at school. While it might look like a sacrifice for some, it’s a perk for others.
A more interesting question we could ask, in my opinion, is what are companies doing to really help their employees have flexible, meaningful jobs. If the way to accomplish that is by offering lunches at work, then go for it! If the answer is any other policy, then go for it, too! My hope is that people can choose what works best for them without having to sacrifice what’s important to them.
Alina from Tidaro: Are there any specific perks and benefits that make remote employees happier?
Justine: This is probably a very boring answer but paying fairly should be the starting point for any company. No benefit or perk will be enough if you’re not paying fairly. Once that’s settled, we can talk about benefits!
We actually ran a survey in collaboration with Plane few months back to find out what remote employees are looking for regarding benefits. What we found out is that there are 7 benefits that make remote employees happier:
- Healthcare, including telemedicine
- Flexible schedules and time off
- Home office stipend
- Childcare and elderly care assistance
- Continuous learning stipend
- Wellness stipend
- Coworking space stipend
There weren’t any big surprises in what we found out. Although there are benefits that are more related to remote work like having a coworking space and home office stipends, or flexible schedules, the rest of them could be considered as ‘normal’ work benefits.
Before the pandemic, remote work was a perk in itself. A lot of people sacrificed benefits and perks to have access to remote work. Nowadays, and considering what we found out with the survey, flexibility is not enough.
On skills and hiring processes for remote employees
Alina from Tidaro: I would also sacrifice some perks for the possibility to work remotely, if there was a choice. But, I’m on the lucky side, working remotely for almost 5 years now.
Now, moving onto another topic: did you see any patterns of evolution across the skills of remote workers?
Justine: We launched skills a few months ago at We Work Remotely. Our goal was to help both employers and job seekers be able to find jobs that were more relevant to them.
Something super interesting that we started to see was that remote workers now have a set of more varied skills. I’m talking about developers who are great writers, for example. Or product marketers that are pivoting to a product manager position because their skills have evolved that way.
It’s amazing to see that remote workers are creating their own career paths!
What I also really love to see is that companies are also finding a lot of value in these types of remote workers. We sometimes see job listings that require people to have a very varied set of skills that don’t stick to only one job category but that touch many of them.
Alina from Tidaro: Interesting find, Justine!
Now, experts say that it takes more time to hire remotely than on-site. Do you have any advice to streamline the hiring process for remote employees?
Justine: It all comes down to having a process in place. You’d be surprised to see how many companies are creating their hiring process on the fly. That’s definitely not a good experience for the people who are interviewing and, of course, not good for the company in the long run.
There are a few steps you can take to streamline your hiring process:
- Create a process of recruiting. Think beforehand who’ll be hiring, how, what roles are you going to be hiring for, what will the interview process look like, how you’ll determine someone’s a good fit, what an offer would look like, and even how you’ll deal with rejection notices.
- Nail down details about your company culture, values, and mission. You want to hire people that fit in so you need to be clear on who you are to attract the right person to the role.
- Rely on hiring tools to make it easier for you Decide what you’ll be using during your process and how… and stick to it! You don’t want to be improvising in the middle of a hiring process.
- Know what a good job ad looks like and use job ad templates. A job ad is not the same as a job description. When you publish your job listing, it has to be attractive. It has to describe what’s in it for the job seeker and it has to explain who you are and what your company culture is like. A good job ad tells a story and lets job seekers know what they’ll be doing and how.
- Create a roadmap for each position. Once you have the rest in place, you can start working on questions that will help you during the hiring process like what the characteristics a candidate should have or what skills you’re looking for. The idea is to have a way to know who’ll be a good fit for your company and who won’t.
No hiring process is static. It’s good to check your process each time you hire someone to improve it.
Employee engagement and culture in remote environments
Alina from Tidaro: So, the hiring is done. It’s time for onboarding and employee engagement. My question is: how can companies build a strong culture while having remote employees?
Justine: We actually wrote a great guide on that that you can check out here. In short, everything starts with being intentional. From being intentional in the values of your company to the tools you use to how and who you hire, everything counts.
One big mistake I see a lot of companies make is to think that if something worked at one famous remote company it would also work for them. And that’s not true. Just as with any other company, not one size fits all. It requires a lot of tweaking and improving but each company has to find what works better for them.
Of course, it’s always great to see what others are doing but to think that just one strategy will help you build a strong culture, won’t be enough.
Alina from Tidaro: And my final two questions are about work inside “We Work Remotely”: how do you onboard remote employees and how do you keep employees engaged?
Justine: When someone joins the team, we create a unique Notion guide for them. This guide includes:
- Links to other relevant docs about our culture, information about our product, strategy docs, etc.
- Tasks for each week of their first month. We think about these tasks to help them get familiarized with how we work and to start including them in our processes. Each week also has its own checklist that could include reading certain docs or getting access to some accounts, depending on the role
- A section for questions where the person that joins can ask everything that might not be covered by the guide
We also pair the person with someone from the team so the new teammate can have someone to ask questions to whenever they have them. This also helps the new person feel like a part of the team and learn all those things that are more related to our culture and how we work.
To keep everyone engaged, we have bi-weekly and weekly check-ins with each other. Outside of those, we’re pretty much async, since we live in very different time zones. We have intentionally built a culture where we really trust everyone’s doing their work. We’re also a small company so we truly rely on each other doing what they’re supposed to do for everything to work out. We don’t chase anyone around and we know everyone’s doing their part. Also, we trust people will ask for help or support whenever they need it. Giving everyone trust and independence helps us stay motivated and engaged.
Alina from Tidaro: The pairing idea is just brilliant!
And I love the fact that you can easily manage async work and you trust one another. You are an example.
Justine, this interview was a pleasure. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with us!
This concludes another interview from our series “The Workplace Scoop”. Here are our previous interviews.
If you want to connect with Justine, you can find her on LinkedIn, here.
If you want more insights on how to manage hybrid and remote work, we’ve prepared this thorough guide you’ll definitely enjoy: Mastering Hybrid Work.