Among the many challenges the enterprise tackled last year during the pandemic-imposed upheaval, the most odious (business-wise) was the rapid shift to remote work. Specifically, human resources departments had talent to contend with, as they dealt with recruiting, interviewing, hiring, firing, on-boarding, consulting, and much more. The tech-oriented HR firm Talview conducted a recent survey on remote hiring trends for 2021 amid the COVID-19 crisis and the workforce shift to telecommuting.

The once new-normal, and now just normal has changed the way employees and companies not only initially find each other, but the nuances and practices regarding ongoing relationships between HR and staff. Unique to this particular report: Respondents are from companies many people aspire to join. TechRepublic readers may be interested to learn, the largest group queried by far–46 companies and close to 32% of all industries polled–were from tech departments.

Among participants: Amazon, Disney, Uber, Kellogg’s, Zoom, MD Anderson Cancer Network, Red Bull, iCIMS, Garmin, Red Bull Montreal, appFolio, HCL Princeton University, Task-Us, AdventHealth, Stanford Health Care, Parker, Lufthansa Technik, Vodafone, Charter, SRM University, Huawei, Indeed, Home Advisor, and more.

Respondents were given the opportunity to comment on how their hiring processes have changed since the pandemic. Some said they went from several in-person interviews to a single remote interview. While there are challenges in countries where “wet signatures” are “legally required,” companies said they still went 100% remote. Other companies indicated that virtual interviews and new employee orientations were becoming the norm, and that they were now looking more closely at other positions that were traditionally “in office” that might become remote.

Some respondents said they’ve done away with background checks and drug screenings, as well as cut travel, looking for qualified candidates in a wider arena to streamline the process; they’re using e-signatures on contract agreements, conducting online assessments, and moved to keep communication continuous within the company.

They’re also launching new campaigns to facilitate virtual engagement, building their social media profiles (one respondent called it “giving a picture into our company and culture.” They want to “improve their brand, attraction and reputation.”

The combination of technology and human resources was demonstrated to be both fitting and successful: 80% of respondents said the interview and hiring process at their companies was fully remote. A further 15% said their processes were not fully remote, and an additional 5.5% (eight companies) said they were not currently hiring.

Additionally, because the talent pool for remote work is much wider, as commutes/locations aren’t likely factored into consideration, 79% of those polled agreed remote hiring can help foster diversity in their organizations. Respondents were asked their opinions regarding expanding beyond commuting distance, and if it would increase diversity, and nearly 79% responded “yes.”

About three-quarters of participants stated they were satisfied with how well a remote staff worked, and were additionally satisfied with remote work technologies. One participant who has worked remotely for 20 years said they relied first on hiring talent first and that tech is supportive.

IT positions topped the list of roles which were vanguards in remote work prevalence (followed by management, sales and marketing, and operations & finance). Technical/engineering roles represented 60% of remote hires, followed by management (54.5%), sales and marketing (51%), operations and finance (49%), HR (39%), and customer success (43%).

The survey revealed few negatives and the top two obstacles to continuing to hire remote employees were the 38% of respondents who cited “an organization’s mentality that in-person workers are more effective,” and the 36% of hiring managers who wanted local candidates.

Additional reasons companies gave for preferring to stay within a region include because they only hire where they have customers (17.9%), jobs require in-person interaction with customers (27.6%), and compensation and legal factors (31%).

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