Hiring Remote Workers – 5 Essential Qualities to Seek

Remote work has been the trend even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.  It has increased since March.  And, it will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

Structuring a virtual team has been essential in maintaining many firms over the past six months.  If you plan to hire new employees or replace lost workers during Coronavirus, you will likely have at least some of them work from home.

remote workerFive Remote Worker Qualities

If so, some rules of thumb regarding the five qualities you want to look for in your remote workers are:

1.Pleasant and Friendly

You might believe if someone performs competently at their job, it makes little difference whether you like them as a person – especially if they’re working remote. That may be true until you hire member of staff you can’t stand.

A great worker at what they do, however, presents a dilemma. Do you keep them on board because of their skills, even if they get on your nerves when you interact?

Co-workers who are negative, complain excessively, and act negative toward you will poison communication with them or dealing with them in any capacity.  Releasing them will frankly be a massive burden off your thoughts.

Clearly there are candidates you can find who possess both talent and don’t drain your work enjoyment.

It’s even acceptable to employ a person who’s just reasonable in performance but has an inspiring outlook. If they’re teachable and willing to be trained in the way you company handles things (see point number three), then you can help them develop into their role.

Teaching someone to be more pleasant to work with, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as easy.

2. Proactive

You need remote workers who are going to take action on their own or take the initiative to come to you when it’s appropriate like when they:

  • face a technical issue
  • need guidance or clarification
  • have a suggestion for how the process could be improved

Ideally, they should report the problem to you so you could address it. They shouldn’t ‘fly blind’, and then you have to redo their work.

When you’re interviewing and hiring remote workers look for people who come across as slightly more aggressive and outspoken. These are frequently people who tend to be more proactive.

3. Open to Being Taught

Your business evolves over time so your remote workers need to be willing to adapt and change. That means they have to be willing to be trained.  If not, then they’re not going to be able to continue to perform effectively.

A remote employee that refuses to accept teaching and is complacent about absorbing changing practices can’t continue producing high quality.

4. Timely Communicators

When your staff is not collocated, communication can slow down. Instead of face-to-face meetings, you send emails, or maybe make phone calls.

But there’s no guarantee when you’ll get a response.

Willingness and ability to communicate in a timely manner is an important quality – especially in remote workers. But emails that go unanswered for days or messages that don’t get returned can’t be tolerated.

In these uncertain business conditions, quick communication could be absolutely vital to the success of a project or even survival of your company.

5. Receptive to Feedback

You hire people to boost your business and to take pressure off you. When you offer them feedback and constructive criticism, they should respond positively. Plus, they should use these comments to put them into practice and improve their skills.

So, if you offer a virtual worker constructive criticism and then you see they don’t apply it – they’re not qualified.

Additionally, keep in mind the added cost of team members who won’t relate to feedback. When you pay someone to complete an assignment, and then you have to spend extra time fixing their work, it eats up your hours and your budget.

However, if a remote worker ignores feedback, gets defensive, or doesn’t use criticism to improve their ability- – Bye, Bye!

Summary

Hiring and training remote workers has a learning curve. Look for candidates who are proactive, receptive to feedback, open to learning, quick to communicate with you and pleasant to work with. If you can do that, you’ll build a team that will help you take your business to the next level.

Want to improve your team recruiting strategy even further? Call Flexicrew to help you attract talent who can effectively work remote as long as this pandemic lingers.

Potential Government Assistance for COVID-19

Depending on their business, companies should keep apprised of the potential for government assistance. The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, is a $2 trillion stimulus package intended to counter some of the economic devastation caused by the Coronavirus. The law makes certain government loans available for the cost of rent and employees, which are forgiven when funds are expended on the required purpose. The timing and scope as to when and how much may ultimately be available remains unclear.

Coronavirus mask on globe

CARES Act
  • Creates a $350 billion loan program to businesses that employ no more than 500 employees, allowing companies to borrow money to cover certain costs, such as payroll, healthcare benefits, rent, and utilities, among others.
  • Provides loan forgiveness programs through incentivizing business to retain and rehire employees.
  • Expands eligibility for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, raising the maximum amount for these loans to 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs, or up to $10 million, with interest rates not to exceed 4%, and waiving certain credit and personal guaranty requirements.
  • Adds relief for businesses in the accommodation and food services industries, certain franchise businesses, and small businesses that receive financing through the Small Business Investment Company Act.
  • Funds small-business education programs regarding COVID-19 and available federal resources.
  • Enables the U.S. Department of Commerce to give grants to minority business centers and chambers of commerce to educate, train, and provide access to federal resources.
  • Extends Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) eligibility to individuals operating sole proprietorships, independent contractors, etc., with no more than 500 employees.
  • Empowers the SBA to approve EIDLs solely on the basis of an applicant’s credit score or by use of alternative methods to gauge the applicant’s ability to repay.
    • Applicants may request an advance of up to $10,000 within three days after the administrator receives the application, which may be used for any allowable purposes under Section 7(b)(2) of the Small Business Act and is not subject to repayment, even if the loan request is ultimately denied.
  • Stipulates that, for loans under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act, Title V of the Small Business Investment Act, and for loans made by an intermediary using Section 7(m) loans or grants, the administrator shall pay the principal, interest, and fees owed for loans in regular servicing status for any such loans, whether on deferment or not, that were made before the enactment of the act for the following six-month period, and for any such loans that were made between the date of enactment of the act and six months from such date.
  • Appropriates $17 billion to waive limits on the maximum loan maturities for loans given deferral.
  • Extends maturity during the year following enactment.
  • Stretches lender site visit requirement timelines as necessary due to COVID-19 to (i) 60 days of a non-default adverse event and (ii) 90 days of a default.
  • Provides tax relief to certain eligible employers
    • Eligible employers receive a credit against applicable employment taxes for each calendar quarter in an amount equal to 50% of the qualified wages with respect to each employee. The amount of qualified wages taken into account for each eligible employer, however, will not exceed $10,000 per calendar quarter and the credit will not exceed the applicable employment taxes owed for such calendar quarter.
    • Most employers may defer payment of Social Security tax.
  • Modifies net operating losses (NOL), providing a temporary repeal of taxable income limitation, including: (i) in the case of a taxable year beginning before January 1, 2021, the aggregate of the NOL carryovers to such year, plus the NOL carrybacks to such year, and (ii) in the case of a taxable year beginning after December 31, 2020, the sum of the aggregate amount of NOLs arising in taxable years beginning before January 1, 2018, and the lesser of the aggregate amount of net operating losses arising in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, or 80% of the excess of taxable income.1
  • Modifies limitation of losses for taxpayers other than corporations.
  • Modifies capital gains and losses, providing that deductions for losses from sales or exchanges of capital assets will not be taken into account and providing that the amount of gains from sales or exchanges of capital assets taken into account will not exceed the lesser of (1) the capital gain net income determined by taking into account only gains and losses attributable to a trade or business, or (2) the capital gain net income.
  • Accelerates the ability of companies to recover alternative minimum tax (AMT) credits that were repealed under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, permitting companies to claim a refund now and obtain additional cash flow during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Increases the amount of interest expense businesses are allowed to deduct on their tax returns by increasing the 30% limitation to 50% of taxable income for 2019 and 2020.
  • Enables businesses, to immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities instead of depreciating those improvements over the 39-year life of the building.
  • Provides a temporary exception from excise tax for businesses that distill spirits for use in hand sanitizer.
Awareness of the Resources Available

It is important for businesses to be aware of the resources available, including those in a second CARES Act, to help mitigate the effect of the Coronavirus on their businesses.

Disclaimer

Be sure to speak with your legal and tax professionals regarding the specifics on any CARES question and any potential legal tax issues facing your business.  Flexicrew provides this information as a public service, but it should not be construed as either legal or tax advice.

How to Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus

As of March 11th, 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been recognized as a worldwide pandemic. We have known about the virus ever since it hit China last month, but now that it is at your door you need to protect yourself. Identifying symptoms, too, is important so that you can get help and avoid infecting others.

safe practices

Don’t Panic

It is important to stay calm and focused on reality. While this situation and the word pandemic are very scary, panic only minimizes our ability to think rationally. One of the greatest ways to curtail panic is with knowledge and awareness.

Prepare

First, let’s talk about what you need in order to prepare.

  • The main thing you might face is prolonged periods of quarantine. This has happened in China and Italy both, so it may happen to you. In the case of quarantine, you will have to stay inside your home.
  • According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there are some key things you can do to prepare (just in case):

  • “Create an emergency contact list.” This should include emergency contacts for neighbors, friends, family, your health care team, employers, schools and your local health department.

  • “Learn about your employer’s emergency operations plan.” Find out exactly what your plan covers as to sick leave, work from home possibilities and how your employer plans to deal with this outbreak.

  • Most important, stay informed, look to credible sources for information about COVID-19 and reject gossip and hype, which only propagate panic and anxiety.
Precautions

Let’s talk about what you can do to prevent getting the virus in the first place.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), clean your hands often for at least 20 seconds each wash. Definitely wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.

If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Soap and water are better than hand sanitizer if they are available, so please don’t stock pile hand sanitizer.

Clean your home well and regularly.

The CDC precautions continue, saying whenever possible avoid touching surfaces in public areas that are touched by many, such as doorknobs, handrails, and elevator buttons. Handshakes need to be postponed for now. You can use your sleeve or a tissue when you touch these. Wash your hands right after contact.

Stay away from anyone you know who has a cold or flu symptoms. The World Health Organization recommends at least a 3-foot distance away from someone who is coughing or sneezing.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), you should follow safe respiratory hygiene. When sneezing or coughing, make sure to cover nose and mouth with either a bent elbow or tissue. Throw away all tissues right after use. This is because droplets spread virus by way of spores.

Both the WHO and the CDC advise that if you are sick, stay home. Even when you don’t know if it is Corona or just a cold, it is better to stay home until you feel well again.

According to a medical professional who spoke with CNN on March 10, 2020, a 6-foot distance between people is a safe bet.

Dr. William Schaffner, an internist and infectious disease specialist from Vanderbilt University told CNN on March 9, that the elderly and those with existing compromised health are best served by staying away from crowds, so for now postpone going to concerts, philharmonic and other places where large crowds gather in small spaces.

As of March 11, 2020, the authorities recommend not gathering in large crowds of 500 or more for everyone, hence the cancellation of sporting events around the US, including March Madness, the closing of Disneyland and the cancellation of various conventions. Respiratory infection spreads faster in poor ventilated areas and closed in settings.

Who Is At Highest Risk?

Older adults (Over 60) and those who have existing medical conditions including, lung disease, heart disease and diabetes will suffer the most and have the highest mortality rate if infected, according to the CDC.

The director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier says, the highest risk of COVID-19 is for those over age 80 who have other medical conditions.

If you or someone you know fits into a high risk category, stock up on groceries and any required medications, leave space between you and others, avoid crowds and travel, clean your hands and your house often, and stay home as much as possible.

Symptoms
Normal Symptoms:

The CDC lists the following symptoms to look for, which are much like a cold:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you have the normal symptoms, call your health care provider for an evaluation.

Emergency warning signs:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish face or lips

If you experience the emergency warning signs, seek medical assistance immediately.

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html)

Obviously, if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 you should see your doctor or seek emergency services immediately to get tested and do not come into contact with others to prevent spread.

More Information and Resources
  • General hygiene and cleanliness along with correspondence with your health care provider will go a long way.
  • Wash your hands for twenty seconds often, especially after touching things many others have touched.
  • Clean your house regularly, especially high use surfaces.

For more information on COVID-19, consult the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019