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Remote Hiring Trends 2021: The Future of Recruiting

Remote Hiring Trends 2021: The Future of Recruiting
Maelle De Francesco

Maelle De Francesco


The future of recruiting has always held the promise of more remote work for companies and the employees who work for them. The gig economy was already growing over the last several years, contract and contingent work becoming more popular, and freelancers were taking charge of their employment. Many organizations, especially in the tech industry, were already working remotely with teams all over the world.

2020 kicked it all into high gear as crisis swept around the globe. Even as some industries were just beginning to consider remote work, they were forced into compliance due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. That didn’t just launch current employees into work-from-home situations, but it also affected the newly remote recruiting strategies of companies moving forward.

2021 remote hiring trends

What is Remote Recruiting and Hiring?  

The logical next step after remote working is, of course, remote hiring. For many employers in our global economy, it means hiring workers from all over the world to work in a now decentralized company. Companies must begin to understand what remote hiring in 2021 means, why it’s different, and how to approach the process.

At its core, remote hiring or virtual recruiting is the process by which companies or their recruiting partners source, pre-screen, interview, and onboard new employees without either party setting foot inside a corporate building. It’s made possible today by technology that was around before the pandemic but skyrocketed to world-wide popularity because of the sudden shift to remote work. Virtual meeting tools such as Skype, Zoom, or Teams facilitate face-to-face meetings and email and collaborative apps serve to improve communication. Even onboarding can be done remotely with the use of e-signature documents for new hire paperwork ensuring that even employees across borders comply with local employment regulations.

While hiring remote employees is a logical extension of traditional hiring, it has required a mindset shift for all parties involved: recruiters, hiring managers, and candidates. Many of these changes were already inevitable, but the adoption was kicked into high gear last year.

The Future of Recruiting

Understanding the future of recruiting starts with knowing the history. For a while, many big companies were already embracing remote work. Then, for a few years, some business leaders rejected the idea by pulling previously remote workers back into offices, which created a kind of employment vortex. Now, about 80% of employees say they want to continue working from home even after the COVID-19 crisis is under control. However, it’s estimated that 25-30% of jobs will be remote by the end of 2021.

With the increased demand for work-from-home arrangements by employees, companies will need to adapt or lose out on top talent. This is why looking at the remote hiring trends for 2021 and beyond will be a critical factor to business planning.

There are a few trends experts are already seeing pop up in the market place and some that will inform remote hiring throughout 2021 and beyond.

1. Hub and Spoke

Post-COVID, one possible solution to continue remote working but slowly reintegrating face-to-face interaction will be a Hub and Spoke model. The tech industry adapted this concept early on by providing employees an opportunity to work from home but also conveniently located corporate spaces where they could come for group interaction. This may inform the way companies handle their remote hiring moving forward.

2. Hybrid Model

For others, the future may look like more of a hybrid model for the workplace. A survey conducted in the UK last year showed that 55% of workers want a combination of remote and in-office work. And, in China, experts predict that there will be a 60/40 split between onsite and work-from-home employees. This idea is embraced by employees who want the flexibility of work-from-home schedules and employers who are looking for an onsite presence for their industry.

3. Improved Technology

Remote recruitment also requires the use of better technology. With interviews, for instance, the advancement in video conference technology through platforms like Skype, Zoom, or Teams can enhance the ability to meet remote candidates in virtual space. Other technologies such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) and client relationship management systems (CRM) keep the process consolidated in just one place.

4. Employee Assessment

Even before the increased need for remote workers, employers struggled with ways to determine if a candidate was proficient in their skill set. What was once most common in staffing agency environments, many companies now are embracing the use of online assessment tests to provide a benchmark for employee skills.

5. Remote-First or Remote-Friendly

One interesting aspect of the new work culture that is emerging across the globe is whether a company is “remote-first” or “remote-friendly.” For example, candidates are seeing a lot of job listings classified as “temporarily remote.” The assumption is these roles will return to the office once things have reached a level of normalcy. Companies will need to explicitly state if they fully embrace remote work or if they’re simply remote-friendly and would consider it on a case-by-case basis. The correct classification will directly impact the quality of candidates who apply to roles in the future.

6. Virtual Onboarding

Remote hiring isn’t just about the recruiting process. The candidate experience doesn’t end when a person starts their new job. The onboarding process is just as essential, but working remotely has changed the way it’s handled. New hire paperwork can be completed before the new employee’s start date digitally using e-signature tools. Bringing someone on the team can involve a team meeting, an introduction to collaborative tools, and a welcome package sent to their home.

7. Standardization of Benefits

With more employees working remotely, companies are also needing to look at their benefits packages. Whether workers are in the same country or spread around the globe, employment benefits need to reflect their day-to-day life and necessities. There will be differing needs for countries with national healthcare systems than it will be in places where health insurance is tied to employment.

8. Facilitate Employee Connection

Probably the biggest challenge for remote work is the sense of connection that we associate with the workplace. The remote hiring process should make this a condition of recruitment by providing a communication-oriented application process that makes each candidate feel like a priority even if they are not hired. It makes the transition smoother for employees to come on board to feel that connection with the team.

Conclusion: Effective Remote Hiring

In a post-COVID world, it’s clear that remote hiring will continue to be an important part of the professional landscape around the world. Following the trends that will inform how remote hiring is handled will be critical for success. What may be most important is a place to manage the process from one source to streamline and improve the system.

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