How Much Does Location Matter for Hiring in 2021?

The pandemic and tight job market might have your association considering bringing on employees who live far away from your office location. Before jumping in, read this.

The pandemic forced a lot of organizations, including associations, to consider hiring for remote roles for the first time. But even with some offices reopening, there’s still a strong case for hiring remote employees in some instances … and the complexities of doing so are important to understand.

Now, to be clear, there are a lot of similarities between hiring for remote workers and in-person applicants, says Brie Reynolds, career development manager for the remote job site FlexJobs.

“In some ways, remote hiring is very similar to in-office hiring,” Reynolds says. “The essentials of the process are generally the same: a combination of accepting applications, scheduling initial screening interviews, then second interviews, and finally, decision-making.”

But the differences are enough that they can create lots of questions for hiring managers. Here are a list of pros and cons around remote hiring that are worth keeping in mind.

Pro: A Broader Job Pool

The job market during the pandemic has very much been described as one that favors employees, giving them their choice of roles at a large number of organizations. And that has made remote work a desirable option for many organizations as they look for ways to increase the talent pool at a time when local options may be limited. (One word of warning: Higher-profile companies are also doing this.)

But not everyone is well-suited for working in a remote environment. Reynolds says that the best remote workers excel at communication skills, self-discipline, organization, and the ability to troubleshoot their own technology problems. Knowing that, she recommends looking for applicants who have prior remote experience when possible.

Con: Added Logistics

When employees come in for an in-person interview, it often means visiting an office for a day and interacting with different staff.

That’s simply harder to do when interviewing people remotely. And if your association encourages applicants to meet with a large number of people, keeping the number of people on the line to a minimum for each part of the call might mean more calls to schedule, but it also means a better evaluation of the worker.

“Keep each phone interview to three people (the interviewee and two interviewers) for a manageable, fruitful discussion,” Reynolds says.

Another factor Reynolds points to is the idea of best practices around where and when that interview takes place. Be clear with expectations about whether the interview will occur over video or phone, she says.

And then there’s the onboarding process to consider. Reynolds recommends creating a plan with each new employee with a series of benchmarks to onboard the employee after 30, 60, and 90 days.

“Managers who are new to supervising remote employees will also need to be trained, focusing on proactive communication, results, processes, and tracking metrics,” she says.

Pro: Improved Worker Loyalty

According to a FlexJobs study, more than four fifths of respondents said that options that allowed for increased flexibility, such as remote work options and compressed workweeks, were likely to increase loyalty with their employers.

And that could attract new types of workers. Reynolds recommends playing these factors up during the recruiting process.

“Whatever perks the employer can offer, it’s important to talk them up in the job description and display them on the company website to help candidates understand what the company provides beyond a paycheck,” she says.

Con: Differing Legal Standards

Often, associations in the advocacy space describe state or local-level laws as “a patchwork” of regulations that vary widely.

This is something you have to consider right from the beginning when it comes to remote work and hiring practices, notes the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In a February article, the organization noted that issues could emerge even from the interview process, as state-level regulations around recording job candidates could lead to potential legal issues.

And that goes both ways, according to Noam Cohen, the founding partner of CGL LLP, who spoke to SHRM about the not unrealistic risk that employees could record and share the interview—creating a need for nondisclosure agreements.

“This could have a damaging impact on the employer’s reputation and also lead to claims against them,” he told the outlet.

Other problems include regulations that require the listing of salaries, which have led some employers to explicitly exclude Colorado applicants from consideration, and regulations around independent contractors, which have led some employers to avoid hiring workers from California out of liability concerns around that state’s controversial Assembly Bill 5.

(anilakkus/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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