Hiring a remote workforce, with or without a global crisis

Jul20 Leadershipinsights Issue 1

Over the past few months, our nation has witnessed quite a change as “virtually” an entire workforce was quickly uprooted to a work-from-home lifestyle. The rapid switch has exposed fault lines in some organizations but also highlighted how important and innovative a remote workforce can be.

Many years ago, there was initial resistance to hiring remote employees at Nordic due to cultural concerns and a preference that employees be physically in the office. Over the years, that concern has lessened. By widening our talent pool, we now have access to a larger number of highly skilled candidates with more diverse backgrounds. This has been beneficial to our company. Over the years, we’ve learned how communication, skills-based assessments, and onboarding play large roles in successfully hiring remote employees.


Setting the stage for proper communication with a remote employee starts in the interview process. If communication is spotty leading up to the interview, that can be a red flag for how the candidate, if hired, would communicate with the team. Be up front about your expectations about what remote work looks like. If it’s not OK that they frequently run errands during their workday, let the candidate know so they can determine if the role is the right fit for them. Look for verbal and nonverbal cues to determine if this employee is cut out for remote life. Create an open dialogue from the get-go, as they will certainly need more communication than those who are in the office.

Skills-based assessments

Evaluating a candidate using objective methods becomes much more important when hiring remotely. Formal skills-based assessments and standardized screening tools are great ways to narrow down potential candidates.


Once hired, having a structured onboarding process is key to a remote employee’s success. Creating a cultural connectedness from day one will help set the tone, so make sure that they buy into the company’s culture and values. Assign a mentor to guide them along the way and make sure to keep open the lines of communication.

With these systems in place, we’ve been able to successfully cultivate a remote workforce that makes up over 80% of our 1,100 employees, with 25% of our corporate employees living outside of Dane County. As we move forward, it’s become even clearer that for many of us, hiring remote talent is here to stay.

Jim Costanzo is the CEO of Nordic Consulting Partners Inc.