Virtual Placement – How to Know When You’re Ready to Hire Entirely Remote

Urgent and unavoidable: these were two words that describe how most companies viewed remote work arrangements over the past year. Now, however, what started as a temporary setup is becoming a solid state.

As national leaders in financial recruiting and placement, the team at Premier Financial Search is watching this transition play out. There are some important areas to analyze and preparations to make before your firm takes a headlong dive into full-time virtual hires. Read on to learn what they are.

4 Signs it’s Time to Make a Virtual Hire

It’s important for any firm or corporation to assess its readiness for hiring virtual employees. Hiring a virtual accountant or bookkeeper isn’t on par with staffing a call center. In the financial sector, employees are highly-skilled, credentialed professionals who bring experience and expectations.

While there are benefits and challenges to working with remote employees, you may be ready if your workflow is encountering these challenges:

  1. Extra work in the door — while some companies have suffered in the pandemic, others have thrived. As fintech expands, your firm may find itself in cutting edge markets and expanding at a fast rate. This extra work may quickly exceed your current team, which makes hiring essential. If the nature of new work allows it, adding virtual employees may be your next strategic move.
  2. Insufficient staff — as the work comes in, you may just begin to feel the pinch of being understaffed. When this happens, of course you’ll look at all of your hiring options. Which leads into the next challenge:
  3. Unsatisfactory local talent — if your firm is growing and advancing into new offerings or services, you may simply find the local talent pool inadequate to meet your growth needs. One of the primary reasons firms are looking into long-term, full-time virtual employees is because casting a wider net inevitably yields better results. Once firms see the talent that is out there, the compromises in terms of work arrangements or communication methods and more will pale in comparison to the value.
  4. The feedback is undeniableaccording to Pew Research, 84% of employed adults in banking, finance and accounting self-report the ability to work from home. And, now, some are demanding it. Many firms we work with are encountering this more and more: some qualified candidates will only consider virtual positions.

The pressure from all of these may be early or advanced. If you feel it, now is the time to think about the logistics of interviewing, hiring, onboarding and integrating virtual employees.

Not Just for Entry-Level: Hiring Virtual Partners

It’s important to add to this conversation the fact that it’s not just entry-level or low-level positions that may be filled by virtual employees. For progressive firms, and for one or more certain types of roles, a remote partner may be a powerful option.

In certain niches, there is such an imbalance of supply and demand that finding a candidate is like finding a needle in the haystack. Real estate is one of these niches. Partners with books of business have grown dramatically during the pandemic, and there isn’t a 1:1 ratio of people who can take over those roles. One solution to broaden the scope of available candidates is seeking remote-only talent.

While this may not work for a BD partner, a technical partner or a client partner, some firms may find that major players, even at this level, may excel as virtual leaders.

Challenges to Hiring Virtual Employees

While it is increasingly common, the logistics of hiring and managing virtual employees are still subject to trial and error at a lot of firms. The sheer novelty means that many companies are writing their own playbook. There are five primary challenges we at PFS are seeing our clients face on a regular basis:

  • Accountability and oversight: perhaps the first objection most executives have about a virtual team is a decreased capacity for oversight. Leaders and managers don’t have the same level of access and insight into what employees are doing.
  • Culture: perhaps more than ever, mission and vision are value drivers for employee loyalty and buy-in. Without an in-person dynamic, employers may struggle to facilitate ideal team culture.
  • Communication: not everyone is a digital native. In fact, in our world of finance and accounting, only the latest entrants on the scene were raised with touch screens and video calls. This variety of skills and understanding can be a recipe for communication frustration.
  • Infrastructure: because the transition to temporary remote work was largely reflexive, firms are now catching up to essential aspects of infrastructure. Onboarding practices and scenarios are just one example of what must be in place if a virtual employee is going to work, and work well.
  • Cost and compensation: the metrics for this whole system may be yet undefined for your firm. In terms of compensation, many firms wonder how to present salaries for consideration to prospects in different economic areas. At PFS, we advise our clients to pay remote employees based on the local norms where the firm is located. This means if your firm is in LA, you pay LA salaries, even if the candidate lives in a lower cost-of-living area. This is an important way to preserve the value of the position and keep a level playing field for all employees.

These and other challenges exist, but they are counterbalanced by some significant benefits.

Benefits to Hiring Virtual Employees

In the game of pros and cons, there are plenty of entries in favor of hiring virtual employees. These include:

  • Cost savings: the numbers for hiring virtually do add up. Fewer people in the building means less office space, which is an immediate reduction of overhead expenses.
  • Productivity: CHROs are beginning to differentiate between an employee being present and an employee being productive, and it turns out the two are not interchangeable. In one survey, 50% of surveyed executives reported that productivity was not negatively impacted by remote work, and 30% reported that employees were more productive when working from home
  • Job satisfaction: a 2021 study by Lenovo found that 70% of remote workers had a higher rate of job satisfaction than they had in previous, in-office positions.
  • Brand-building: in today’s age, differentiating your firm from others is vital for attracting high-performers. Offering a flexible work arrangement and entirely virtual positions may be a way to stand out.
  • The best talent: speaking of high-performers, many people at the top of their game can pick the firms and work arrangements they want. Your firm can unlock access to national, even global talent when you allow employees to work remotely.

How to Determine if a Virtual Placement is a Good Fit

Many firms accept the compelling available benefits and are motivated to hire virtual employees. If this is the right direction, you need to understand the nuances of vetting and interviewing employees who will occupy a virtual role.

Ask these questions to determine if a virtual employee will be a good fit:

Independence and Work Habits

Have you ever worked remotely before?
How do you troubleshoot problems while remote?

Communication Skills

How do you communicate remotely?
What are your favorite communication tools and practices?

Team Dynamics

What role are you most likely to play?
What management style motivates you to do your best work?

Personality Type

In what type of work environment are you most productive and happy?

Past Experiences

How would past co-workers describe your work style?
Describe the positive/negative aspects of your previous work environment?

Remote Work

What do you enjoy most about remote work?
What have you missed the most?

Related: learn more about Virtual Onboarding and other tactics for building an infrastructure for virtual employees.

Going Virtual: Post Pandemic Norms and Your Firm’s Future

A post pandemic workforce is going to transition into the “next normal” context. For many future-facing firms, hiring remote workers is a natural step.

As you wrap your mind around what it takes to successfully implement virtual hiring, you may need some additional guidance. At Premier Financial Services, we help firms like yours with placements, and are proud to have an outstanding track record with some of the most prestigious firms in the U.S. Don’t miss out on the benefits that may be available to you through virtual employees. Contact us to learn how to make your first virtual hire, and do so with success.