In order to adapt during the last year, many businesses had to quickly pivot from normal operations to adhere to changing state and federal safety guidelines to keep their staff and workplace safe. These business owners also had to create ways to keep their businesses open and their employees on payroll. Enter remote work.

It’s been shown that remote and telecommuting policies benefit employers with their recruitment efforts, employee productivity and increased cost savings, and offers employees flexibility and better work-life balance. Experts say that remote work is here to stay, so what should you know before hiring a remote worker? Let’s start at the beginning—the interview.

How do I conduct a virtual job interview?
Although there are countless different technological devices, operating systems and video conferencing programs to account for, there is a general etiquette to follow in a professional virtual environment.

Here are several things to consider when conducting an online interview:

  • Dress appropriately: Wear a professional looking outfit that represents the expected dress code at your business.
  • Proper hygiene: Set a good example—it’s still important to brush your teeth, hair and have a clean appearance.
  • Lighting and background: Natural lighting is best; situate your space before the interview and pay attention that your background is appropriate.
  • Wear headphones: You will be able to hear better and eliminate background noise.
  • Check Wi-Fi connection: Establish a solid internet connection, charge and/or plug in your computer or device to avoid any technical issues.
  • No distractions: Avoid multi-tasking; no noisy children/pets/etc. nearby if possible.

If you want to take notes, placing yourself on a brief “mute” while notetaking is polite and will eliminate the sound of a keyboard or scribbling pen.

How can I tell what a candidate is like during a virtual job interview?
An interview isn’t only about the questions you ask. Use this time to your full advantage to get to know the candidate better. Look for:

How the candidate is organized. Were they on time to the interview? Are they prepared to answer your questions? Did they do research into your company?
What their communication is like. Are they using relevant software, and do they know how to use it? What is their language and tone like? Were they polite and responsive leading up to the interview?
A sense of their work style and/or preferred work-life balance. Do they seem to be excited for this opportunity? Do they seem like a team player or better suited for a solo role? Do they need a more flexible work schedule?

A lot of job candidates are looking for remote work. Is there a difference between a work-from-home and a remote worker?
Short answer, yes, but things can get complicated quickly as there are important distinctions between the two. First, determine your company’s policies when it comes to remote and work-from-home employees. You’ll be able to find this by reaching out to Human Resources or looking at the employee handbook.

A remote worker has a geographic location that is different from that of the company itself, such as an out-of-state worker. This is becoming more common as workers are leaving the cities and moving to a more rural state but keeping their current job. A telecommuter or someone working from home is not technically a remote worker as their official worksite is the same as the company’s. It’s important to classify your workers accurately as any misclassification could result in unpaid or incorrectly paid taxes.

Businesses have been adopting work-from-home (telecommuting) policies as a solution to keep employees on payroll and businesses open due to social distancing requirements during the pandemic. Some businesses have adopted these policies as a temporary measure while others have presented it as an ongoing option or have made the change permanent. Make sure you’re up to date on your company’s policies so that you can share that information during job interviews.

Do remote and work-from-home employees file taxes the same way?
Not necessarily. If you’ve hired an employee from a different state than where your business is located, there may be state-specific payroll taxes and other guidelines that you need to be aware of. Also, employees need to be made aware so that they’re filing income taxes in the correct state come tax time.

Are there new tax laws for my business due to the coronavirus?
There are many new tax considerations for your business and employees due to the CARES Act. These include Employer Retention Credit, changes to paid time off, disability, and unemployment insurance and changes to local and state remote work laws. A tax professional will help you to understand these changes and suit them for your business.

Payroll Management is an expert when it comes to all things payroll. We confidently file payroll taxes for our 3,000 clients in 46 states across the country saving them precious time, money and hassle. We’d be happy for you to join the family.

The virtual environment some businesses have to conduct their operations due to the pandemic has offered both challenges and opportunities. By understanding how to adapt these new practices or roles into your policies you’ll be better prepared when it comes to interviewing and hiring in this virtual-leaning environment.