8 Characteristics of a Great Remote Employee


Let’s face it, working from home just isn’t like working a typical office job.  There are so many differences between the two it’s almost daunting to think about listing them out.  A great remote employee has certain characteristics that are just different than one who works in a conventional office.

Here I wanted to think about what we’ve found to be common characteristics of a great remote employee.

Granted not every new team member Needs to have All of these, but the more you find in one candidate the better.  Ok, here we go with what we think are a pretty complete set of characteristics of a great remote employee:

Self Accountability

No boss, no problems, right?  Not so fast my friend.  Working remotely in many ways increases the reliance on the employee to be not only self motivated but accountable as well.  Without someone physically in the office to keep track of you, make sure that your butt is actually in the chair, and maintaining some kind of discipline it can get easy to flit around doing a sorts of busy work.

Staying accountable to the tasks at hand, monitoring deadlines for their deliverables, and keeping organized is a big first step in setting yourself up for success as a remote worker.

Emotional Intelligence

Technology is a wonderful thing and tools like Skype have revolutionized the way that we communicate here in 2016. However, as great as these tools are the fact is nothing is as simple and effective as a face-to-face meeting.

With a remote team the job of analyzing, interpreting, and responding to verbal and non-verbal communication is even more important.  Without all of those visual cues it is increasingly difficult to ensure that you’re acting (and reacting) appropriately to your team members.

Emotional Intelligence is the set of skills your team members must have so that they are collaborating with their fellow team members in a productive, respectful, and, well, intelligent, way.

Technical Skills

No doubt that especially for the more technical crafts like designers and developers there has to be a certain amount of innate skill involved.  However, this should really be the lowest common denominator when it comes to a really great remote team member.

In all business, especially one in which you’re working remotely, things change a lot.  Projects you’re working on, tools you’re using, conversations you’re having are all going to evolve right along with your business.  And if your team members are struggling to complete their core tasks each day, then that uphill battle of adapting to the new challenges of day-to-day work life will be even that much more difficult.

One of the best approaches I’ve seen to measuring the level of these technical skills is a test project or trial employment period.  Either of these allows the employee to show off their skills, and you as the employer to really measure not only how the communicate about the project, but technically how they approach and complete this test project.

Communication Skills

In a remote environment written communication is much more important than verbal.  No face-to-face time means that things like email, chat tools, and knowledge base documents will hold all of the ‘tribal knowledge’ of a company.  Without any of the work communication being done in person, and certainly less than normal of it being done verbally, communicating effectively via written word is hugely important for remote teams.

In fact, this can carry over into the hiring process as well.  Some companies, such as Automattic (the creators of WordPress) do a part of their hiring interviews in chat form.  This is to test the prospective team members on their ability to communicate in this format, and to make them think on their feet a bit.  I’ve done this in the past, and with huge success.  It really is quite telling of the capacity of a team member to adapt and communicate in an unconventional way during the hiring process.

In addition to written communication, sometimes you want to try to replicate the office environment, and for that it’s ideal to use video chat.  There are several tools we like for this, including: Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts.

Proactive Involvement

It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle when you work remotely. Without the physical boundaries of an office building it’s tempting to take off for a long lunch, scoot out a bit early on Fridays, or just “get by” when a little more effort is really what the job needs.

These temptations around working remotely, where your none of your coworkers or managers are around to see your work are ever present, and something that remote employees will have to learn to master. The best remote workers will be those who are always looking to produce results, without having to be asked, and maintain focus on the job at hand, regardless of their environment.

All of this should be done without constant prodding and “checking in” from management.  The best remote team members are reliable so that when a task is assigned everyone knows that it will be done, and done right.

Experience Working Remotely

There’s no substitute for experience.  Talking about remote work is one thing, but actually doing it (and doing it well) is an entirely different thing.  For employers, a first time remote employee is a risk, no doubt.

Whether the new team member will adjust emotionally to their new work life, whether they’ll be good, thorough communicators, and whether they’ll be proactively involved on projects is up in the air from the beginning.  Hiring a team member with proven track record of performing in their remote environment is a safer bet.


In our experience this is one of the most important traits.  Your remote team members have to be fiercely independent.  Time zone differences, changes in communication style, rapidly evolving businesses are all reasons why remote team members are always learnings, adapting, and adjusting to new things at work.

If you as the manager or founder have to “hold hands” through every change that your business makes then it will be a very long journey indeed.  It’s a real pleasure when you can outline a task to a team member, and know that they will take the reigns with that project.  Of course questions will come up, and decisions will have to be made, but knowing that someone has taken ownership of a project is incredibly important.

Local Support System

Remote employees generally fall into one of two buckets:  young millennials looking for a way to work when they want, where they want and specialists who aren’t great fits for their local job environment.  Whichever bucket your prospective employee falls into, having a reliable support system around them is vitally important.

The younger crowd often manufactures this through a shared working space, like Coworking. This collaborative, supportive work environment gives remote workers a place where they feel “at home” when telecommuting, and the sense of community helps get them into that creative, productive mindset.

For those who are looking to specialize in a field, and maybe can’t find those exact jobs in their hometown then remote work is a great way to really hone in on exactly what they want to do, since the ‘where’ doesn’t really matter.  For these professionals a support system around them is also important because the fact is remote work can be lonely.  Having family, friends, other remote workers around you helps to ease that feeling and bolsters up the sense of community both at and away from work.

What is your experience, either as a remote worker or a manager of a remote team?  What things have you found to be really important in your teams that make them work really well?  Drop a comment in below to start the discussion.

Top 6 Applicant Tracking Systems That Make Hiring Easier for Your Business


The hiring process for growing your remote team is quite a bit different than you might be accustomed to in an office based company. The luxury of having the pick of literally anyone in the world is simultaneously liberating, and a bit daunting.

There’s no shortage of tools out there to make this process easier, everything from job boards (like WorkRemotely.io, of course), to project management tools, to applicant tracking systems.

If you’re crafted a compelling job description, are offering a competitive salary, and have attractive work terms then there will be a flood of new applicants for every job you post. Managing that influx of data into your hiring process is key to making a smart decision on who to join your team.

We’ve selected the top 6 Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to help you streamline the application process and make smarter, quicker, and more informed hiring decisions.


We’re starting this list off with a bang. Workable happens to be not only our choice internally for hiring management software but is also very highly rated by third parties. This is because it offers a great combination of tools essential to the hiring process, at a cost that won’t break your budget.

Workable’s key features are broken down into the 5 components of the hiring process:

  • Creating a career site
  • Finding qualified candidates
  • Applicant tracking
  • Conducting Interviews
  • Hiring Analytics

They really do excel at many of these, and offer solutions to businesses looking to streamline the hiring process.  The benchmakr of Workable’s system is being able to manage the entire hiring process all in one tool, without the need for any data entry or synchronization between platforms.

Workable has plans starting at $19/mo and offers a 15 day free trial so you can take it for a test drive.


RecruiterBox touts itself as “the simplest recruiting software in the world for growing companies.” and from everything we see they may have achieved just that.

This well designed application allows recruiters to create new job postings with just a few clicks, and accept resumes through their company’s own site. For power users, recruiters can also use the bulk upload function to import multiple candidate resumes at once.

Now just posting a new job is never enough, so RecruiterBox helps get highly qualified applicants in the door as well.  To do help with this, Recruiterbox connects to several social media channels, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

After a candidate applies, Recruiterbox users can customize the screening process anyway they’d like.  From phone screenings, to in person meetings, to resume screening, it offers almost any hirhing tool you’d want.

To wrap things up nicely, RecruiterBox also tracsk and gives metrics around email and phone communiation with each applicant, so you can go some higher level filtering of applicants on this basis, and measure your own internal process later.

RecruiterBox starts at $20/mo/opening, and does not require any long term contract.


With a combination of web app and corresponding iOS app for iPad and iPhone Breezy.hr is a complete solution for managing the hiring process at small and medium sized businesses.

One of the standout features about Breezy HR is it’s customizability.  With a drag and drop editor to create exactly the workflow you want out of your hiring process, Breezy is putting customer preference first.  Add to that a RESTful API that allows developers to create custom solutions to extend the base set of packages that come with Breezy, it is a great solution for companies looking for a very specific set of criteria.

With a FREE plan for a single user this is a popular choice amongst small businesses.  Fully featured versions of the platform start at just $49/mo.

As with most other platforms Breezy.hr also offers ability to post new jobs to several platforms, and promote those listings via social media including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.


Lever.co is another best of breed applicant tracking platform.  With all of the bells and whistles that a hiring manager would need in one place this may be the ultimate in terms of a complete solution.

Lever offers customizable job site creation, one-click sourcing, referral links to track applicants’ inbound path, and two-way email sync to keep all those conversations organized.  For those companies looking for a solution that will manage the entire hiring process, without the need for additional tools, this may be the one to choose.

As an added bonus, Lever offers a Chrome extension that allows employees to put a referral in the company pipeline right from their browser.

Pricing of Lever may be a drawback, however, as it is not set in stone either on their homepage or within plans for a company, so be sure you know what you’re signing up for ahead of time.


What started as a recruiting platform has now evolved and grown into a full blown applicant tracking system.  Greenhouse offers companies all of the tools they need to both recruit, screen, and properly hire new additions to their teams.

At the core of their hiring process lies the task of finding great candidates.  The company has put extensive resources into syndicating new job postings to online job boards, in person events, external recruiting agencies, and allowing for the tracking of referrals.  To take it a step further they’ve built in A/B testing to measure which job postings are getting the most, and highest quality, applicants.

These tools to help measure the ROI of recruiting campaigns goes a long way towards optimizing the entire hiring process.

Having grown out of a recruiting firm, Greenhouse has some time-tested best practices around interviewing, screening, and onboarding new employees.  This saves hiring mangers a lot of time and headache in not reinventing the wheel every time a new job posting comes around.

Greenhouse plans are not publicly available, so you’ll have to request a demo from the homepage to see more of the app and learn about pricing for your business.


Every one of these has an area of strength, and Crelate is no exception.  This app is built specifically with executive search firms in mind.  These firms that rely on managing extensive networks of relationships need a tool that can help keep track of the interconnectedness of many of these touch points.

At it’s core, Crelate is a typical Applicant Tracking System, but it takes things a step further with enhanced search function that allows users to mine through data fields including resume, internal notes, recent activity, and email communication.

To top it off, Crelate also has iOS apps for iPad and iPhone so the busy hiring manager can easily keep up with their hiring process when they’re on the go.

Which is Right for Your Company?

The choice of which Applicant Tracking system is right for you depends on several factors.  Do you require full integration of email and calendars?  Is robust search functionality across data points important to your process?  Or do you require ultimate flexibility both in process and functionality within an app?

The answer to each of these questions should guide you pretty clearly to one of the solutions we outlined above.  Each of these ATS are best of breed and provide small to medium sized business with a great tool to make the recruiting and hiring process significantly easier to manage, and makes hiring  high caliber new team members predictable and repeatable.

We’d love to hear your experience with the tools we mentioned above.  Drop a comment in below with your experiences.

Welcome to the WorkRemotely Blog

Hello and welcome to the Work Remotely blog.  Here we’re putting together all of the resources that both businesses and prospective team members are looking for to get the most out of their remote work lives.

If you have a suggestion as to things you would like to learn about or hear our perspectives on please drop us a line at hello@workremotely.io.

We look forward to hearing from you very soon.