5 Traits Every Successful Remote Employee Needs


After months of working from home, many employers are beginning to wonder if business as usual will include an office. If you are looking to hire new employees, you might want to consider how they will fair if remote work becomes your company’s new normal. As you are screening new employees during the onboarding process, here are five remote employee traits you should look for in every candidate.

Are you looking for more information on identifying traits in potential employees? Check out our post on three key traits for successful home healthcare employees.

Remote Employee Trait #1: Independent

One of the first traits that remote employees must have is independence. You can only check-in so much if you are in a different city, state, or country. You need an employee who can work independently and still accomplish fantastic results. 

Independence doesn’t mean that your employee will never need help. It’s essential to lean on your coworkers and managers because no one can do everything by themselves. Your employees do need to be able to spend time working by themselves with less interaction from their coworkers, though. If they have a day with little contact from you, would they know what to do?

How To See If A Potential Employee Is Independent

  • Ask them about a time when they worked on an independent project. What did they accomplish while working on this project independently? How did they manage the project they were working on? Take time to discuss how they handled the project and what they wished they would have done differently.
  • Ask them what independence at work means to them. Everyone has a different definition of what independence means. What does independence at work mean to your candidate? Will they want to be left alone all the time, or will they be able to lean on other coworkers from when they need it?

Remote Employee Trait #2: Flexible

Working from home means that your teammates may live in a variety of places. You might have a coworker who is five hours ahead of you or three hours behind you. Time differences pose a lot of challenges when it comes to working on projects or having team meetings. While your goal as an employer is to create a balance for your workers, you can’t please everyone. Any meeting you hold will probably be during someone’s lunch break or breakfast time.

Your remote employees need to be flexible, but make sure that you aren’t breaking them. Take a look at your current schedule to see if you can adjust it so that everyone has to make sacrifices, not just employees in a different time zone than yours.

How To See If A Potential Employee Is Flexible

  • Share more about your weekly schedule and the times associated with it. Do you have any recurring meetings or a daily schedule that you can share with your candidate? Provide that information so they can be aware of what’s expected. Ask them if they have any questions or concerns about the way you typically run your organization.
  • Ask about a time when they had to change course or adjust during a project. We’ve all had to quickly adjust the way we work due to some unforeseen circumstance. Ask your employees how they managed to change course and how it impacted them.

Remote Employee Trait #3: Timely

Remote work is challenging. You may be working with people from all over the country and the world. You need to be on time for meetings and events. When people are late to meetings, it wastes a lot of time and people resources. You need employees who value time and show up to the things they have signed up for.

Think about a time (at work or home) when someone was late. How did that make you feel? Remote workers have an extra layer due to the time zone differences we face at work. If you don’t screen for this during the interview process, it can come back to haunt you during your new employee’s tenure at work.

How To See If A Potential Employee Is Timely

  • Observe how they show up to meetings and answer emails. One of the best parts about measuring how timely your candidates are is that you get a front-row seat to this during the interview process. Candidates shouldn’t need to drop everything and get back to your emails immediately, but are they responding quickly enough?  Applicants shouldn’t be answering you five days after you’ve sent a message. Are they on-time for interviews? Candidates will likely behave the same way once they’ve received a job offer.
  • Ask them about their opinions on timeliness. What does timeliness mean to your potential employee? Does it mean arriving within a three-minute window, or does it mean arriving five minutes early? Everyone has a different concept of time, and it’s crucial to realize that before you hire someone new.

Remote Employee Trait #4: Communicative

Communication is the basis of any remote work partnership. Written, audio, and video-based communication are cornerstones of remote work. You may not be able to communicate face-to-face, but you will have to connect with your new employee at some point. Communication sans face-to-face interaction is a special type of connection. You can’t depend on a lot of things like facial expressions, hand gestures, etc. Even when you use video tools like Zoom, you can still miss out on certain cues.

Since remote employees miss out on these face-to-face interactions, their other forms of communication need to be strong. If you have a new employee who can’t use Zoom or doesn’t know how to write a proper email, you’ll be out of luck. A lot of these skills can be taught over time, but you’ll want to save that training for employees who exemplify your company’s core values.

How To See If A Potential Employee Is Communicative

  • See how they communicate via email, video, and phone calls. Again, communication shows up during the interview process. How do they structure their email replies? What do they say during video or phone interviews? How they show up now is a significant predictor of how they’ll show up later.
  • Ask about a time when communication broke down in their life and how they overcame it. Whether in a personal relationship or work one, communication breaks down. How you overcome that break is crucial. Ask your employees what they did to repair a communication breakdown in their lives.

Remote Employee Trait #5: Organized

Last but not least, remote workers need to be organized. Thankfully this organization is usually tied to how digitally organized they are, but this is still required. Can they stay on top of deadlines and get things turned in on time? They don’t need to be Type A, but if they can’t keep up with deadlines, it can have a considerable impact on your company’s bottom line.

When understanding organization, it’s important not to think about it from your perspective. Everyone organizes projects differently, and you can’t fault them for having a distinct organizational style. As a company, you might organize projects a certain way, and it’s okay to mandate that your employees use that organizational style while working for you. If they typically organize projects differently, though, you shouldn’t fault them. The point is to see if they can stay organized, not to know if they are an expert in organizing like you.

How To See If A Potential Employee Is Organized

  • Ask about how they organize a typical project or task they might be performing. If your new candidate might be revamping a blog strategy, or having a sales call, ask how they would organize that project or task. If they’ve done the job before, ask them how they managed it in the past. If this task is new to them, ask how they managed another recurring task in their past job.
  • Talk about their current organizational strategy. We all organize differently, but what is your candidate more familiar with? What’s in their current organizational strategy? Do they write things down using a paper planner? Do they use an online tool like Asana? Remember, you are judging them on the fact that they organize, not necessarily how they organize.


Screening employees is important. If you ask the right questions and observe your candidates well, you can make fantastic hiring decisions. We are living in unprecedented times, and we aren’t genuinely sure when going back to the office will be safe for our employees. If you don’t need employees in the office to run your business, working from home might be a semi-permanent solution for your business. If that’s the case, you’ll need to make sure that you are screening for the right things during the hiring process, so that your employees can comfortably work from home.

What is one trait that you need to focus on when finding the right candidates for remote work opportunities?