Hiring telecommuters: Does work-from-home experience matter?

As virtual offices increase in popularity, the likelihood becomes greater and greater that your new hires will have telecommuted before. Instead of going on instinct and trust, many job applicants arrive at companies with a record of working from home successfully, and have the results to prove it. This can be a benefit to managers who need to know their employees are cut out for self-starting and staying on task amid the distractions and comforts of home. 

However, it's not worth ruling out applicants who have little practice in working from home. Instead, HR representatives and department heads can ask key questions during the interview process to determine how well a prospect could handle the arrangement. In IT World, Esther Schindler weighs the pros and cons of experience in telecommuting. 

"I'm not suggesting that you reject someone based on a lack of telecommuting experience. But you should be especially attentive to her answers," writes Schindler. "Ask as a follow-up, 'What adjustments do you expect to make in your work routines?' Look for someone who has thought through the changes."

On the flip side, an employee who boasts an impressive record of working from home may lack the education or specific knowledge a position requires. The best candidate for the job might be green to telecommuting, or a seasoned work-from-home veteran. As with any other hiring metric, experience working in a virtual office is one among many managers must consider when sizing up the potential value of a new hire. 

However, if the best candidate comes from a brick-and-mortar background, anticipate some delays getting him or her ramped up to speed. The most important thing is that the person is willing to adapt.

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